When I was six, with my Doctor’s approval, my family let me attend summer camp. I wanted to go to a camp like my friend, but instead I was sent to a special camp. This was the year of my life when I realised that I was different. I couldn’t understand why children who had arthritis and children who didn’t couldn’t attend camp together. Don’t get me wrong, my special camp was amazing and a lot of fun. Some highlights were going fishing on a wheelchair/walking aid accessible boat that my camp mates and I could easily board and sleeping in a tent. I never attended another camp but craved one my friend without a disability and I could attend together.
Last year, in response to some requests and for the young girl I used to be, I introduced a summer camp called Camp Mission Access. The camp’s mandate is inclusive activities for everyone. Ice Rose explores my love for secret agents and their world and also sparked the idea for a secret agent themed day camp. I found some amazing friends to help start this journey. Teachers gave me advice on what should be included to provide children an opportunity to flourish. Choreographers created activities that leaped over the boundaries associated with any kind of disabilities and made each activity inclusive. All came together to bring the adventure and characters of Ice Rose to life, and the young girl who wanted so desperately to have fun with all her friends saw her dream come true.
I was overwhelmed with joy as the secret agents-in-training laughed, explored, and were all simply children, no matter their abilities, financial status, or health. Not one of those children used any judgement as they laughed, as they played, as they dreamed and shared their imaginations with all of our camp counsellors. Maybe the world needs more opportunities to view the world through a child’s eyes.
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- Header photograph by Kaylee Bee.