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Sunny Skies Ahead as Camp Spark Kicks Off Its Summer Sessions

Two young girls in a judo hold.Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) is kicking off summer with another year of Camp Spark for the 2023-2024 season with even more campers to enjoy our summer sports.

Camp Spark is a comprehensive overnight sports camp for individuals ages 8 to 21, who are blind and visually impaired. This unique model uses sports, physical activity, and orientation and mobility as a catalyst to encourage leadership, independence, advocacy, and daily living skills that contribute to overall greater quality of life. All campers vary in socioeconomic status, ethnic background, and level of skills and abilities, and NWABA offers camp free of charge to youth and their families.

NWABA will host a total of seven week-long sessions throughout the year, each with different eligibility requirements. Our first session, starting next week at The Hull Foundation for the Blind in Sandy, Oregon, is in its second year and is tailored specifically to children, youth and young adults with multiple disabilities, in addition to being blind and visually impaired. This specially designed week-long session has grown in attendance from six participating campers in 2022 to 13 campers currently. All sports and activities are adapted to the complex needs of each camper, who will work one-on-one with a counselor to guarantee that they were fully engaged in all activities from swimming and riding a recumbent tandem bike to socializing with their peers.

Young camper in the air during a high jump.Two additional summer sessions will be held at the Linfield University Campus in McMinnville, Oregon and will provide sports instruction to a total of 82 campers ranging in age from 8-21, living in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. This is our biggest turnout yet! Campers will participate in a variety of sports and recreational activities including goalball (a sport specifically developed for individuals with visual impairments), fitness, beep baseball, tandem cycling, yoga, judo, track & field, and numerous others.

The camp schedule will continue into 2024 with three winter sessions of Camp Spark offering campers the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities including snow shoeing, tubing, broomball, and more. NWABA staff will integrate various vocational transition skills for campers to build independence throughout the weekend, including advocacy, leadership, teamwork, meal prep, and cooking, along with orientation and mobility skills. NWABA will host two winter sessions for youth (ages 12-15), with the third to be held for transition age youth and young adults (ages 16-21).

Then in April, NWABA will host an invitation only session for elite athletes, ages 10-21, and focuses on high-performance blind soccer and goalball skills.

We love seeing our campers each season and welcome many new faces, as well, as attendance grows. Camp Spark is partially funded by the generosity of our individual donors, foundations, state grants and corporate partners; however, additional support is critically needed to deliver a successful camp. To give a gift in support of Camp Spark, visit www.nwaba.org/grow.

For a full schedule of Camp Spark sessions or to get involved, visit www.nwaba.org/camp-spark.

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