MedStar Georgetown Hosts Summer Camp for Kids with Special Needs

August 4, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) – For one week this summer, the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) department took our mission of providing cura personalis – care of the whole person – to a whole new level by hosting a “zoo themed” camp for children with special needs. The camp, led by a multidisciplinary team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists and rehab techs, engaged the camp goers in various activities including circle time, music activities, obstacle courses and crafts.

PMR-Summer-Camp“Kids like to be around other kids, and when they are in a group setting for therapy they are both more willing to participate in difficult activities and are more engaged in the activities,” said Laura Ruiz, PT, PCS, CNDT. “For some of the kids we see in therapy, it's also a great opportunity to learn how to take turns, be patient and to interact well with other kids.”

The camp also allowed a more natural setting for the kids to work on their skills. With seven children between the ages of four to seven years old, the therapists focused on encouraging the children to work towards their targeted goal in a social setting. The many zoo-themed activities such as reading books about animals, going on an “animal hunt,” obstacle courses and yoga were held both indoors and outdoors. Children participating in the camp had various special needs including gross and fine motor weakness, Cerebral Palsy, language delay and autism.

Lindsay Hart, SLP worked on organizing the summer camp for almost one year to ensure that the activities and structure of the camp would be beneficial for the children. She also said the idea of a summer camp was a great way for the children to engage in social settings.

“Many of the children participating in this camp wouldn’t normally be able to attend a summer camp for various reasons,” said Hart. “During the week of the summer camp, we have seen improvements in the kids especially in their social skill development. I had one parent comment to me that she was so excited to see her child be a social butterfly as she is normally very shy in groups.”

The structure of the five-day, three-hour camp started every day with circle time in order to have the kids sit together and interact. From there, the activity would be gross motor activities such as yoga and a type of obstacle course. After a break and snack, different crafts would round out the day to work on the children’s fine motor skills.

“The overall goal was to give some of our patients that come regularly for PT, OT and speech more intensive therapy with the five days, and at the same time work on their social skills and interaction with other kids,” said Ruiz. Hart also said that she hopes to continue to grow the summer camp next year to include more patients as it has proven to be a beneficially and enjoyable opportunity for the children in addition to the therapists.

The camp was a true success and was an excellent, creative example of cura personalis. By creating a fun, personalized environment for these children, the PM&R staff was able to offer clinically appropriate therapy in a playful setting, which made a positive and lasting impression on their lives.

Back to Top