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Tina’s Life Changing Camp Experience

This year Tina attended the Down Syndrome SA school holiday camp on the 2nd to the 4th of October at Nunyara Conference Centre in Belair. There were 18 children at camp and ages ranged from 10 to 17 years old. The camps run for three days and require two sleepover nights. The staff ratio is one staff member to three children.

After attending during the daytime last year, Tina decided to stay for her first sleepover away from home at this year’s camp. Tina’s Client Coach Teressa helped in the lead-up to the camp, with home visits focusing on Tina’s social skills, safety skills and protective behaviour issues. Teressa has spent time with Tina and the family developing social narratives and schedules in regards to the camp, and about sleeping there with friends. Tina stayed in a dorm with one of her best friends from school, and one other peer of similar age, which helped her feel more comfortable with the new experience.

The focus of the camps is allowing the children to make new friends and develop skills such as personal care, communication and recreational activities. They also have the opportunity to try new activities in a safe and supportive environment, whilst having fun and enjoying the experience. Teressa expressed how the power of peer modelling was definitely a big influence at the camp for Tina to develop her independence skills. She saw her friends eating with a knife and fork, brushing their teeth and showering by themselves and had a realisation that she can do this too. By Tina stepping out of her comfort zone and regular support environment, of relying on her mum and dad to assist her, she gained the courage and confidence to learn new skills and be more independent.

As of the night Tina returned home from camp, she brought home her newly learnt skills and her mum and dad were over the moon. They couldn’t believe how her behaviour had changed after being at the camp for three days. It was truly amazing! She continues to shower, dress and clean her teeth independently. Tina loves talking about camp and is looking forward to the next one. Tina’s parents are thankful to Down Syndrome SA and the team for supporting her. Tina’s parents said, “The camp has been a positive experience for Tina and we as a family are now reaping the benefits. We are all looking forward to the next camp next year, especially Tina”.

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