Autism camp in full swingPublished 4:49pm Saturday, July 20, 2013
By Holly Johnson
Hormel Historic Home
I am in awe of what is happening at the HHH this week.
We are currently providing 23 kids who are affected by Autism with a summer camp experience they might not get otherwise.
Twenty paid staff, two community outreach volunteers from Mayo Clinic Health System Austin, and three youth volunteers are busy ensuring these kids, aged 6-12, are comfortable, engaged and learning.
Observing these teachers makes me realize even more that it takes very skilled and caring people to work with and nurture these special youth.
You wouldn’t recognize the banquet area if you visited right now.
The space has been divided by rented walls into five “cabins” filled with books, games, and other items of interest to the specific kids in that group.
There is a snack/lunch area, a calming room complete with dim lights, soft chairs and cozy blankets, and a sensory zone. Snacks are made in the Atrium and the garden is used for all sorts of outside activities including a water day and a carnival.
The space has been transformed into a kid-friendly educational environment where the kids can feel safe surrounded by others with similar characteristics. Children with Autism know they are different so it can be rare they find a place where they are totally accepted despite or because of their individual behaviors.
I have seen kids having to make choices about what interest group they are going to participate in.
I have heard them elaborately introducing and describing the snack for the day, and I have seen curriculum reinforcing the concepts of keeping a schedule, speaking at appropriate times, and dealing with frustrations. I have noticed a few kids struggling to conform and respond the way the leader expects but I saw qualified staff dealing with each situation in a constructive way.
The friendships that are formed at the Circle of Friends Day Camp are also a positive outcome to the week. When the kids started arriving yesterday I saw several of them with big smiles on their faces greeting one another with hellos and hugs.
We only have one girl with us this week as Autism is five times more common in boys, but she was instantly hugged by a fellow camper like they were long lost best friends.
These kids are getting a real world experience and loving it and so am I.
All Access Community Explorations
July 22-Aug. 21 (Mondays and Wednesdays only)
Tours of the Home may be limited on Mondays during the program. Please call ahead for schedule.
Rhythm Roots Workshop
Thursday, July 25 1:30-3:45 p.m.
This even is for grades 1-8 and costs $10
Register by calling the Community Learning Center at 507-460-1700
The workshop will provide kids access to many types of percussion instruments with a short performance at the end
Free garden concert
July 25 6:30 p.m.
Karibuni, an African Quartet, will feature music from the Congo and the Ivory Coast. Rain site is inside the banquet facility. Refreshments will be available for purchase.