Jake treating Dieumene for back pain
For the second time in 2012, The Red Thread Promise offered a camp specifically designed for disabled children in Haiti. Our team took 44 campers -- with conditions ranging from blind to deaf to non-ambulatory -- to Camp Jake for a life-changing 7 day experience. A diverse group of 14 counselors from VA, TX, OH, LA, and GA brought a variety of talents to the table, providing campers with many opportunities for exercise, nutrition, physical therapy, personal growth, music and art therapy intertwined with a load of fun!
Multiple languages were spoken to ensure that everyone could participate in all activities according to their abilities: English, French, Kreyol, American Sign Language (ASL) and even a bit of Spanish! Each counselor was paired with a small group of campers, building strong bonds and trust throughout the week.
Campers were given a choice of foods during three nutritious meals every day to energize them for hours spent swimming in the pool and ocean, playing games of soccer, frisbee and beach ball, jumping rope, and shooting hoops.
A certified physical therapist worked with multiple campers throughout the week, teaching exercises to reduce pain, strengthen muscles, increase mobility and develop independence. An art therapist worked with campers of all abilities creating 3D masks of their own faces, creating cards and learning the art of Zentangle to refine fine motor skills and develop relaxation techniques.
But perhaps the most profound therapy was experienced by every camper and counselor, regardless of age, gender or ability: an activity that transcends the language and socio-economic barriers that separate us: music. Regardless of ability, everyone was able to participate, from singing, playing percussion and guitar, clapping, and humming. Non-ambulatory children found the strength to pull themselves out of their wheelchairs to dance; the blind jumped, clapped and sang; even the deaf joined in on percussion, music they could feel down to their core.
Cultural exchanges were made as we translated European folktales into Kreyol for the blind and baked fresh chocolate chip cookies, an American favorite.
It was a transformative week, not only for campers but also the counselors. No eye was dry when we said our goodbyes. Our team is counting the days until the next session of Camp Jake.
Jesula painting her mask
Elgy learning to Zentangle
Jimmy playing percussion
Samuel taking his first swim on Gary's back
Epic boat ride at Camp Jake