Children explore the arts

For 41 children, many of whom have a variety of special needs, their involvement this past week in Laurier’s Arts Express Camp has been an opportunity like no other.

The week long camp, held for the past 15 years at Kids Ability in Waterloo, allows the children, ranging from age six to 14, to participate in music, drama, dance, swimming and outdoor activities.

“It gives children with special needs the opportunity to take part in programs like music, dance and drama,” said Debra Martz Melanson, Arts Express Administrator.

Melanson adds that this camp is very unique, as it has counselors for children of all needs along with children who do not have special needs, which allows children to attend the camp with their siblings.

“It’s really special having that combination and allowing [the children] to be with their siblings throughout the week,” said Melanson.

The camp culminates in a performance where the children showcase what they have been doing throughout the week.

The campers divided into different colour groups sang, danced and acted, finally coming together to create a rainbow.

“I just had a lot of fun,” said Roslin Grant, a nine-year-old camper, after the performance. “I like when we sing songs.”

Enthusiastic to share her favorite songs, Grant sang the “Frankenstein” and “Nose” songs during an interview with The Cord.

Throughout the week a group of dedicated volunteers, camp leaders and faculty consultants worked with the campers teaching them a range of activities.

Lucas Adam, a 16-year-old volunteer, began participating with Arts Express as a camper at the age of seven.

“You have a great time,” explained Adam as to why he returns to the program year after year. “You get to hang out with friends.”

Camp leader and fourth-year student at the University of Waterloo, Danielle Coughlin, got involved with the program after hearing of the positive experience it provides for the campers.

“It gives them an opportunity to feel successful at something,” she said.

Coughlin noted that expanding the duration of the program would be incredibly beneficial to the children.

“If they were able to get funding to do this for more than one week during the summer… they would do it again,” she said.

This year’s weeklong program is made possible by the support of many donors including Spaenaur, the Rotary Club of Kitchener Grand River and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

Click here to listen to Roslin Grant’s singing

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