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A Loss of Sight, Never a Loss of Vision: TWU hosts third annual Camp Abilities


A Camp Abilities camper descends on the rock climbing wall after touching the ceiling.
A Camp Abilities camper descends on the rock climbing wall after touching the ceiling.
Photo credit: Susan Sponsler

DENTON – The third annual Camp Abilities Texas at Texas Woman’s University includes 28 very enthusiastic children between the ages of 9 and 18 who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind. The camp’s mission is to empower students with visual and hearing impairments to be physically active and productive members of their schools, cities, and communities, as well as to improve the health and well-being of people with sensory impairments. Lisa Silliman French, TWU associate professor of kinesiology is the university’s faculty representative for the camp, said that Camp Ability’s slogan: A Loss of Sight, Never a Loss of Vision was inspired by the Helen Keller quote: “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.”

The camp offers one-on-one instructional situations for each camper. TWU undergraduate and graduate kinesiology students serve as counselors. This experience is enriching for the campers as well as the students. The counselors encourage the campers and teach them what they can do in the areas of sports and recreation. This year’s 20 kinesiology students received training to teach sports and recreation to students with sensory impairments and are gaining invaluable experiences.

Priscilla Miranda, a TWU undergraduate counselor, says she really likes working at the camp. “I like helping the children. Sometimes it’s their first time to try something, and I like seeing the smiles on their faces when they realize that they can do it!” said Priscilla.

One of the most challenging activities is rock climbing. Beth Foster, a TWU graduate teaching assistant in kinesiology who is pursuing her doctorate in Adapted Physical Education, led the rock climbing exercises and is one of two assistant camp directors. Foster has worked with Camp Abilities Texas at TWU for the past 3 years, but has also worked for 7 years prior to TWU at camps across the nation.

Beth says that she likes telling campers: “Yes, you can!” So often they’ve been told “No, you can’t do that,” she said. During camp, we tell them over and over: Believe you can achieve-- no matter what challenge you’re facing.

The camp is a collaboration between Texas Woman’s University, Denton Independent School District and the Division of Blind Services/DARS. This is its third year. Sports like rock climbing, swimming, track and field, goalball, and other fitness activities build each child’s self esteem and confidence in their abilities to master specific sports, recreation and social activities.

Written by Susan Sponsler
Creative Director

page updated 5/9/2016 4:57 PM