Camp Au-some was held last weekend at Camp OYO in West Portsmouth for members of the Autism Project of Southern Ohio and their families. Camp Au-some is a weekend camp with the opportunity to stay overnight in cabins or the families may opt to only attend during the day with the comfort of the autistic person in mind.
“It was started three years ago to give the kids the opportunity to go to a camp, where as, they may not be able to enjoy a traditional summer camp or be able to afford to attend,” said Mike Bell, President of Autism of Southern Ohio.
The Autism Project of Southern Ohio covers all the cost of putting on the camp for the families that attend. Campers enjoyed running and jumping outside in a safe area along with crafts, games, fishing, storytelling and much more.
“While participating in activities, they also were utilizing social skills and build friendships,” Bell said. “Sometimes that can be challenging for a person with Autism.”
Bell stated the camp is not only for the kids but also support for their families. Brittany Greene, her husband Ron Greene, and their children Desmond, Evelyn and Ronan were one of the many families that went to camp.
Brittany Greene said, “It is amazing to be in a group that welcomes you and your family. There is the feeling of belonging. No judgment because we can all relate to this journey in some ways. Even when Evelyn was having a tired and hot three-year-old moment everyone was supportive and didn’t make the situation stressful. Just that feeling of knowing that you have someone rooting for your child with every small accomplishment and victory is everything.”
Parents have the opportunity to connect with other autism families and relate to their stories.
“Getting suggestions for therapies and where to go for services helps ease some of the stress of this journey,” Greene expressed. “Talking about IEPs, 1:1 aides, dentists, door locks, elopement, over stimulation, OT, teachers, diets and how we all just want what is best for our children.”
The camp activities are mostly outdoors so the parents can relax and enjoy conversation while the kids are having fun.
“Seeing them (Desmond and Evelyn) call out names of friends or to be invited along to a game warms your heart,” said Greene. She also gave thanks to Tina Greene (grandmother of the children) and Ron Greene for their effort and support to the Autism Project of Southern Ohio and the kids.
Bell also said, “It takes volunteers and financial support to be able to put on such a thing for these kids.”
He said the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year is Light It Up Blue on April 2 (Autism Awareness day) held at Jim Dandy’s each year.
Other fundraisers include the Autism Walk and selling Puzzle Pieces in the spring. Financial supports also comes from community members and businesses. Any donations can be sent to Autism Project of Southern Ohio, P.O. Box 888, Portsmouth, Ohio, 45662.
There are approximately 35 families who are members of the Autism Project of Southern Ohio currently.
“Any family with an autism diagnosis that is interested in becoming a member of AOSA can attend a meeting to see if they like it,” said Bell. “There are no age restrictions to be a member.”
These meetings are held on the second Saturday of each month at 1018 Waller Street, Portsmouth. They are open to the public and family memberships are $15 per year.
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