Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

A Service Delivery Model for Physical Activity in Students with Visual Impairments: Camp Abilities

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

A Service Delivery Model for Physical Activity in Students with Visual Impairments: Camp Abilities

Article excerpt

The importance of physical education for individuals with visual impairments (that is, those who are blind or have low vision) is the focus of a sports camp called Camp Abilities. The camp, a 2012 Access Award recipient from the American Foundation for the Blind, has contributed to maximizing appropriate opportunities for physical activity for students with visual impairments by directly providing physical activity experiences, as well as supplying training in innovative teaching practices to countless preservice physical educators and teachers of students with visual impairments.

Educational services for students with visual impairments have changed dramatically over the past several decades, including the delivery models in which such services are provided (Ajuwon & Oyinlade, 2008). A service delivery model can be defined as a configuration of resources aimed at achieving particular educational goals and includes the individuals responsible for providing services and the locations in which the services are received (Cirrin et al., 2010). Service delivery models can be situated on a continuum ranging from those that are provided by residential schools for students with disabilities to those that are inclusive and provided in neighborhood schools (Ajuwon & Oyinlade, 2008; Winnick, 2009). Each placement option may have advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, scholars have suggested that a full array of service delivery options be available for the education of students with visual impairments and that placement should be determined by each student's educational needs (Ajuwon & Oyinlade, 2008; LaVenture, 2003).

The purpose of this article is to describe Camp Abilities as a service delivery model for physical activity and discuss several educational strategies used at camp that benefit both the athletes and participants while at camp and the professionals responsible for teaching them. Camp Abilities' programs provide students with visual impairments educational services that focus on the expanded core curriculum (ECC) content area of physical education and physical activity. On most service delivery continuums, Camp Abilities would fall into the special class services category, since it is a camp specifically for children with visual impairments. Camp Abilities includes each camper in every activity, and the goal of Camp Abilities is to provide campers with the physical tools they need to be successful in physical activities and to empower campers to return to their schools knowing what accommodations they need to be included in physical education and sports. Campers have expressed feelings of empowerment through their common backgrounds, experiences, and societal perceptions (Goodwin, Lieberman, Johnston, & Leo, 2011).

A brief history and overview of Camp Abilities

Camp Abilities is a developmental sports camp for children and adolescents with visual impairments and deafblindness. The camp was founded at the College at Brockport, State University of New York, in 1996 by Lauren J. Lieberman and Monica Lepore. The first camp served 27 student-athletes and included 30 volunteer coaches. To date, the program has served more than 2,000 students at over 22 locations across the United States and in countries including Canada, Costa Rica, Finland, Ireland, Guatemala, and Portugal. Each camp shares a similar structure and mission with the original Camp Abilities while adding programmatic aspects that are specific to the geographic region in which the camp is located. Lieberman, Lepore, and Haegele (in press) provide a more comprehensive overview of the history and growth of Camp Abilities in an article entitled "Camp Abilities: A sports camp for children with visual impairments."

Camp Abilities is built on the premise that instruction in a variety of physical activities and sport experiences improves the lives of students with visual impairments and deafblindness (Shapiro, Moffett, Lieberman, & Dummer, 2005). …

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