Disabilities didn't get in the way of 27 young athletes from around the country Wednesday, during the third day of Ability First Camp at Chico State.
Camp Director Eric Snedeker says, "It's not, know more about their limitations and what they can't do.. We flip it around as, what can you do that you didn't know you can do." That's the name of the game at Ability First Sports Camp. And when it comes to sports, they really have it all. "Waterskiing, rugby, basketball, track and field, tennis," says camp coach Devon Saul.
But for these 27 kids from across the U.S., it's more than just about the sports. Camper Patrick Ivison says, "They teach you independence and how it's going to be in the real world." Saul says, "Our overall goal is to show these kids that they are not just limited to what most people think they can do."
The camp was created 26 years ago by Chico State Therapeutic Recreation Masters Student Eric Snedeker. "My dream was to create an opportunity where they can go off to camp, live in a dorm and experience the same kinds of things I did as a kid," says Snedeker.
Things like staying up late, playing pranks on the counselors and being away from home. And on top of that, getting the full sports camp experience. Something these 8 to 17-year-olds might not have otherwise had. "We have the specialized sports equipment with the high level coaches with disabilities.. to integrate the two to be able to provide wheelchair sports instruction to kids who typically can't get that," says Snedeker.
All eight coaches are in wheelchairs and most of them pro-athletes.. Which gives them the tools to inspire these kids to reach for the stars. Ivison says, "I've learned that really anything is possible." Saul says, "They can grow up and be a paralympian, they can grow up and be a spokes person, they can grow up and do something beyond what everybody expects of them.."
Ability First Sports Camp is privately funded but is always in need of donations. If you would like to help support this camp you can call 588-0335.