It’s a place for kids to be who they are. It’s packed with top-notch camp experiences like swimming, hiking and field trips. And for 17-year-old camper Nigel? It’s the best summer camp ever.
Because at One-for-All summer camp, located in Medicine Hat, Alberta, inclusion comes standard.
Established by Medicine Hat Adaptive Sport & Recreation in 2014, the camp fills a critical need for children with intellectual disabilities who don’t always have the opportunities to benefit from everything camp can offer—including being physically active.
Disabilities can pose a barrier to traditional camp programs, and that can cause children, and their families, to feel like they are missing out.
“Summers can be really tough for families if they don’t have that physical activity outlet,” says Tara Chisholm, Program Coordinator at Medicine Hat Adaptive Sport & Recreation. “We definitely try to give our campers a typical summer camp experience.”
The team at One-for-All takes a camper-focused approach, working closely with kids and their families to understand how to best support and ensure a successful (and fun!) summer camp experience filled with swimming, sports and other outdoor adventures.
“We always have the camper in mind first, building activities around them so it is a good fit and is successful,” says Tara.
One-for-All also tries to introduce its campers to new and unique physical activity experiences they may not have access to otherwise. The camp adapts the experiences for each individual’s needs.
“We just went lawn bowling and it was a beautiful day,” says Tara. “The club we visited was able to support modifications to the activity (like softer balls) so that everyone was able to participate in their own way and safely.”
For camper Nigel, who lives with autism and a number of complex challenges requiring 1-to-1 support, attending camp has not only increased his love for physical activity and sports but has built confidence along the way.
“It’s a place where it’s okay to be who you are. No one is judged based on their abilities,” says Nigel’s mom, Renae. “That is why these camps are so ideal. We would be lost without them.”
That opportunity, to be himself and participate in sports and outdoor summer activities tailored to his needs, has been transformational for Nigel.
“When he first started, Nigel didn’t really say a whole lot and preferred to just sit back and watch. Now, being in this camp, he is encouraged to be himself and will talk to camp staff about his day and how he feels,” says Renae.
Funding from GoodLife Kids Foundation has allowed One-for-All to continue fostering an environment where campers like Nigel can have the best summer possible with the support of trained staff, accessible transport to field trips and additional assistance during activities like swimming.
“This funding ensures our campers can have unique experiences and memorable summers—with all the physical and emotional benefits that come with it,” says Tara.
And for Nigel’s mom Renae, the greatest experience of all is seeing him be himself during a summertime program full of support, friendship and fun.
GoodLife Kids Foundation raises funds to remove barriers and provide physical activity opportunities for kids with special needs all across Canada, just like Nigel. To date, GoodLife Kids Foundation has impacted the lives of more than 254,000 Canadian kids!