Outdoor Adventure for the Developmentally Disabled
Experiencing nature up close and personal was the goal of recent camping trips taken by two groups of young men with developmental disabilities.
Each group enjoyed an outdoor adventure at Wappapello Lake State Park. The trips were part of the new Outdoor Adventures Program sponsored by the Association for persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Inc. (AID), in conjunction with VIP Industries.
We wanted to give the camping experience to people who usually don't get the chance to camp. From building campfires, to cooking over an open fire, to setting up tents, 21 young men with developmental disabilities learned various skills needed when tackling the outdoors. During hiking trips the men took time to identify various types of plants and outdoor life, and even encountered a few snakes along the way. The conservation department also provided some one-on-one educational experiences.
AID has created new programs, such as the Outdoor Adventure Program, to give individuals with disabilities the same opportunities others receive. It is the goal of this program to teach skills in socialization, improve communication, participation, and to provide an environment which encourages their overall growth and development.
The campers enjoyed the opportunity to socialize with one another in an informal setting, while given opportunities to participate in activities they never tried before. One of the highlights was fishing on a pontoon boat on the St. Francis River. While the group didn't have much success catching fish, most didn't mind, as they took turns driving the boat, and maneuvering the waterway.
For VIP Workshop employees, Gary, Danny, and Patrick, driving the pontoon boat was the best part about the trip. "I got to drive it!" Danny exclaimed, with a large smile.
Additional Outdoor Adventures will be available next spring. If you, or someone you know, is developmentally disabled and is interested in participating in the next Outdoor Adventures event, please contact Lori at 573-334-1166 for more information. If you are interested in volunteering for the program, are an avid camper, or just have a love for nature, and would like to mentor others who wish to learn, please contact us. To find out more information, you can view our new website at www.vipindustries.com/aid, available in November 2010.
AID, formerly known as The Cape Girardeau County Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc., is a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.