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One child, one camp at a time

by Hannah Church - Contributing Writer
Tue, Sep 24th 2019 09:00 pm
Lauren Lieberman (above, far right) traveled to Ghana this semester to lead Camp Abilities. For many of the campers, the activities were a first for them. Lieberman is currently in Ireland to begin her work for the program there.
Lauren Lieberman (above, far right) traveled to Ghana this semester to lead Camp Abilities. For many of the campers, the activities were a first for them. Lieberman is currently in Ireland to begin her work for the program there.

Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D developed Camp Abilities in 1996 as an educational sports camp for children and teens with visual impairments, blindness and deaf blindness at The College at Brockport. Over the course of the Fall 2019 semester, Accra, Ghana welcomed Camp Abilities into its own community.

The program’s goal is to serve the underserved group. 

“Individuals with visual impairments are marginalized and looked down upon by society,” Lieberman explained in her Fulbright letter. “This institutional and cultural malaise leads to decreased opportunities in sports and physical activity, which in turn results in decreased motor skills and overwhelmingly sedentary lifestyles for individuals who are blind.”

Lieberman discussed her achievement in receiving the Herb Siegel Visionary Award at the “Dining in the Dark Gala” on Tuesday, Sept. 17. The award represents Lieberman’s impact on the Olmsted Center for Sight and service to the blind community. She is also a recipient of the Global Fulbright Scholarship, which has allowed her to build the program in Ghana this year. 

Matt Farwell, a graduate assistant who works with Lieberman, explained the significance of the award.

“The scholarship is one of the highest government awards for service teaching,” Farwell said. “It allows the recipient to go to any three countries of their choice to implement their program.”

Lieberman discussed her timeline for the fall semester along with her sabbatical plans to continue to expand the program. 

“With a Global Fulbright Scholarship, I would travel to three host countries on three different continents — Ghana, Ireland and Brazil,” Lieberman established in her letter. “The 

Fulbright Scholar Program would enable me to build on the program I have already established in the U.S. and allow me to extend my reach to other countries and continents.” 

She elaborated on how Camp Abilities has grown since its origin at Brockport. 

“I created a Camp Abilities manual to simplify the camp-development process for the volunteers who wanted to start more camps: at this time there are 20 in the U.S. and eight in other countries,” Lieberman said. 

Lieberman left on Saturday, Sept. 2, to begin her work at IT Tralee in Ireland to reinforce the Camp Abilities programs. The program functions to benefit the campers as well as current and future teachers. 

“Camp Abilities not only changes the lives of the campers, it also provides vital and rare opportunities to train educators in the best practices for teaching adapted sports and physical education to children who are chronically underserved,” Lieberman wrote in her letter. 

Lieberman provided a video of her experience in Ghana, depicting a “care to share,” as Lieberman phrased it.

“The campers say something they accomplished and are proud to share with the group,” Lieberman said. 

Many of them stated how happy they were to be doing the activities offered through the program. 

“One boy, who was 18, shared that he had never run before,” Lieberman said, expressing her shock when she first heard the boy’s statement.

Past students who have participated in the camp have gone on to continue their involvement by providing service to the program. 

“I was in Dr. Lieberman’s APE class and the opportunity to be a part of the Brockport Camp during the summer came up and that’s how I got involved,” Jasmine Bradwell, another graduate student who works with Lieberman, said. “Most people who do camp start their own. That’s how new one’s form. Dr. Lieberman hopes to expand Camp Abilities to provide service across the globe in the future and is actively pursuing that goal… One child and one camp at a time.”

 

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Taken by Vinny Croce:
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