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'They amaze us every day' | Dreams with Wings finds success with virtual summer camp

A Louisville non-profit that serves adults and children with intellectual and development disabilities shifted their annual camp online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Dreams with Wings is a Louisville non-profit that empowers children and adults with intellectual and development disabilities to recognize their strengths and to contribute to their community. 

Starting in 2000, the nonprofit has wanted to improve services, programs and community inclusion for the children and adults they support. 

This time of the year is typically filled with fun in the sun as members of the non-profit host a summer camp for kids they support but amid the coronavirus pandemic things have shifted to a virtual camp. 

“Summer camp is probably like the highlight of their year,” Dreams with Wings Director of Community Support Services, Devon Wasser, said.

While planning for a summer camp, Executive Director Jenifer Frommeyer didn’t know what to expect while recreating it into a virtual experience.

“We were trying to figure out ways to do it outside, can we have a talent show at the end, and it became clear those things weren’t going to pan out the way we’d hoped," Frommeyer said. 

However, the staff at the non-profit were up to the task and turned it into a huge success for the children they serve. 

“It turned into something we didn’t even expect and then exceeded those expectations," Team Education Coordinator, Heather Sauer, said.

From online art classes to yoga, the organizers were able to give the summer camp that the children in the organization deserve and made it the most fun as virtual camps permit. 

“[Campers] Are just overflowing with energy every day," said Wasser. "They are really coming out of their shell. They’re interacting more than I’ve ever see them interact. I think just having the screen there is giving them a sense of comfort.” 

The camp featured dozens of special guest instructors and the over the course of seven weeks over 96 sessions were held. 

“So, we have art, yoga boot camp, we have education, somebody does live science, we have music therapy, somebody playing live music, we have Kentucky Shakespeare,” Sauer said. 

Throughout the entire camp and all of the different activities that took place, one thing stood out as remarkable by the staff at Dreams with Wings: how loving, talented and barrier-breaking the children they serve are. 

“They amaze us every day," said Wasser. "They amaze me. And I just hope that even just a little bit of this can show everyone what they are capable of."

For more information on Dreams with Wings, check out their Facebook page.

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