Ohio Performing Arts Institute dancers and Salvation Army Day campers prepare to learn several dances Monday.

This special summer camp was organized for students with disabilities. Here’s what they’re doing.

More than two dozen area children with disabilities and other special needs have been experiencing a special Day Camp this summer operated by the Salvation Army.

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“There are 25 kids in this camp. A lot of these kids wouldn’t be doing much this summer if it weren’t for this camp,” said Ryan Ray, the Development Director for the Salvation Army of Clark County.

The six-week camp has a cost of about $35,000, but families only have to pay a fee of $25 to enroll a child with a disability or those who meet certain requirements.

The low cost is due to the camp’s sponsors, such as Practice Pro, Springfield Foundation and Speedway, officials said.

“If it weren’t for these amazing local businesses, the cost of this camp would be quite higher,” Ray said.

Local businesses like Young’s Jersey Diary and Rudy’s Smokehouse also provide weekly meals. The goal of the camp is to create memories and moments, along with laughter and smiles so the children all can enjoy a summer.

The sponsors allow the camp to provide other services.

“Our camp furnishes transportation, so we have our lift buses and other vans and buses that go out and pick the children up from their home and after the camp is over we take them back to their parents,” Ray said.

Campers’ disabilities range from physical to mental.

“We do have children in wheelchairs. We have a couple of kids with Down syndrome and we have one kid that is essentially immobile, but his brain works beautifully,” Ray said.

On Monday, campers went to the Ohio Performing Arts Institute. Dancers like 16-year-old Tessa Jenkins were on hand to teach dances and encourage the campers to move. She said the campers learned the moves well.

“It’s just kind of neat to see how they can take it and interpret it into like their own way,” Jenkins said.

The camp will end in a few weeks with the “Day Camp’s Got Talent” show on Friday, July 20.

For more information, contact the Salvation Army at 937-322-3434.

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