By Sean Lee, WWJ Health Reporter

DETROIT (WWJ) – Summer camp is a rite of passage for many kids, but for children with special needs, a traditional camp experience isn’t usually an option.

But there’s a place where even the biggest physical and mental challenges are no match for summer fun.

The sounds of excited kids and happy parents fill the halls at The Detroit Institute for Children where, this week, campers have (in their imaginations!) been to the Land of Oz, the Amazon and the moon.

It may sound like a regular day camp program, but it’s been specifically adapted to meet the needs of the institute’s patients, according to Camp Director Debbie Gershune.

“Some of them have physical disabilities, that they are in a wheelchair 24/7. They are taken out of their chairs to go into bounce houses, onto trampolines, to do the arts and crafts,” Gershune said.

For parents, like Allison Lane, knowing her son 4-year-old Carson, who has autism, can enjoy a camp experience like other kids, is amazing.

“Carson’s getting so much out of this,” she said. “I did not expect so much, truthfully. He’s every night going home singing the song about vacation.”

Summer camp at the DIC isn’t just all-inclusive for special needs kids.

Their siblings are also welcome to attend, says Institute Chair Mark Cleary.

“For them to come, really, we focus on them a little big; have a lot of fun with them; and they are having an activity that they can participate with their special needs brother or sister,” Cleary said.

Thanks to the hard work of therapists, volunteers and generous donors, the DIC is able to provide a priceless camp experience to patients at no cost.

To learn more about the programs offered at the Detroit Institute for Children, visit this link.


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