Special needs camp struggles with funding cuts
Easter Seals Camp Horizon caters to children and adults with disabilities
Government cuts are creating a funding shortfall for a summer camp near Calgary that caters to disabled children and adults.
The Easter Seals Camp Horizon near Bragg Creek is a unique facility that offers programs dedicated to the specific needs of various groups each week, including children with diabetes, kidney impairments, ostomies, burn survivors and their siblings.
After the province cut job funding and Ottawa slashed its summer grant program by roughly one third, Camp Horizon is feeling the pinch.
But Anna Garcia, the camp’s director, said there is no way to safely reduce staff levels for such a specialized operation.
And with adults and children already slated to come from all over Alberta and the rest of the country, Garcia said cancelling camp weeks is not an option.
"Our campers, they look forward to their week at camp more than anything all year long. This is the one place that they feel they are part of a community that understands them," she said.
Garcia is hoping the government funding shortfall will be covered by private donations. "In a province that has so much, that should be possible," she said.
Linda Firlotte's 19-year-old daughter spends part of her life in a wheelchair and has been coming to the camp since age eight.
Firlotte said her daughter would be crushed if the camp was cancelled.
"She would be devastated. She feels like she owns this place," Firlotte said.
Summer programs at Camp Horizon get underway in less than a month.