Special needs kids’ camp open

Published 6:34 am Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Bogalusa Lions Club is taking applications for an annual, free summer camp for kids with special needs.

The camp is near Leesville, and each session is based around what need the child has. For example, there is a one-week session for kids with pulmonary disorders, two one-week sessions for kids aged 8 to 19 with mild mental challenges and a one-week session for kids aged 7 to 19 who have visual, hearing or orthopedic impairment. There are also two one-week sessions for youth aged 6 to 14 who have diabetes.

Cassondra Matney’s daughter Isabella, who has type I diabetes, attended the camp last year, and Cassondra said it was a great experience.

“The kids could understand they’re not the only child who was having her blood pressure checked and getting shots all the time,” Cassondra said. “She met lots of friends, and she was around other kids for six days who had to have their blood sugars checked before they ate anything.”

Cassondra said she heard about the camp only weeks after her daughter’s initial diagnosis, so the camp helped ease her daughter into the illness. And, Cassondra said, it helped her understand her daughter’s illness, too.

She added that she didn’t worry about her daughter at the camp because it has a doctor on staff.

“The doctor we met stays on site. He was there 24 hours a day and they have several registered nurses and dieticians,” Cassondra said.

But the camp was about more than the illness.

Asked what her favorite memories were from the camp, Isabella said, “The activities like painting. They had a race for all the groups. You had to go to each station and if you made it back, and if you found the flag, you won the flag.”

And like kids at camps anywhere, Isabella made a friend.

“The little still girl calls Isabella and they stay in contact,” Cassondra said.

Cassondra recommends the program to any parent who has a kid who qualifies.

“I would like people in the community to know, because their kids could really benefit from going,” she said.

Cassondra said she’d be happy to answer any questions anyone has, and people can email her at Cassondrarowell79@gmail.com.

To apply for the camp, contact local Lions Club member Debbie Lusco at debbielusco@yahoo.com.