Ambergris Caye Camp Starfish caters for children with special needs

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

There are several summer camps taking place across the island and the newest offering is the extra-special Ambergris Caye Camp Starfish! Dalia Alamilla and Dianela Hancock have organized this camp primarily for children with special needs. Camp Starfish commenced on Tuesday, July 22nd at the Lions Den and is the first summer program for children with mental or physical disorders that may impair their development.

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Alamilla spoke of the reason for the camp. “San Pedro doesn’t have any agencies or organizations that work with special needs children. So many parents are unaware of the assistance and opportunities that are available for the development of our children. The camp was designed to offer support for these children and to assess the population of children with special needs on the island.” The camp is being held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of the week from 9AM to 11AM until Saturday, August 9th.

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Organizers believe the summer camp will be beneficial not only for the children but for the community in general. “Right now there isn’t a record of how many special needs children are in San Pedro, and there is still discrimination against them,” said Hancock. “We hope that with this camp we can educate people on the reality of living with a special needs child and break any form of stigma there is. We want to show people that these children are just like any other children; they simply behave and develop in their own unique way. We want these children to be accepted as normal citizens that can contribute to the community.”

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The camp will offer counseling for parents of special needs children, as well as skill enhancement programs for the children, including physical and speech therapy. The camp is free of charge and there is no age limit for attendees. Volunteer teachers and students will be assisting with the running of the camp and the caring of the children. There will be fun activities such as arts and crafts and sports. “Even though we want to make the camp educational and focus on helping special needs children, we still want them to enjoy the true experience of a fun filled summer camp,” said Alamilla.

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Organizers have also stated that the Ambergris Caye Camp Starfish is only the start of a much larger program for special needs children. “This camp will help us create a network of parents with special needs children. We are hoping that as time progresses, we can actually create a regular program to provide assistance, counseling and most importantly, bring specialists to the island to provide therapy for our special needs children,” said Hancock.

Everyone is welcome to attend camp. Organizers are offering pick-up service for children who do not have means of transportation. A nurse will be present at all times during the camp. Any form of donation is welcomed to offset camp expenses. For more information or to make a donation please contact Dianela Hancock at 668-4819 or Dalia Alamilla at 662-7880.
Organizers would like to thank all those who have generously made a donation or have volunteered their time.

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