Kitchener-Waterloo

KidsAbility camp gets kids with disabilities into STEM

KidsAbility hosted a week-long camp where kids with disabilities learned how to build robots. The organization's CEO says they saw 'tremendous strides' in the children that attended.

'We've seen such tremendous strides that these children are making,' says organization CEO

A four-day KidsAbility camp introduced children with disabilities to STEM by having them build robots. The camp is similar to other camps, but just with more support for the campers to help them succeed. (Twitter/Kidsability)

It was a week of watching children reach their full potential for Linda Kenney.

KidsAbility helped run a four-day STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camp for children with disabilities and Kenney, the CEO of the organization, said the children loved to build robots.

"What's unique about this camp is in order for some of these kids to participate, they just need that bit of extra support," Kenney said. "We've seen such tremendous strides that these children are making."

In one case, she said the parents of one boy were thrilled because their son thrived at this camp when at other camps he had been sent home because they didn't have the supports in place to help him.

Kenney said many of the children showed improvements in their social skills, working together and even in making friends.

During one of their group activities, campers were asked to build something that they would wish for using Legos. One little boy in the group built himself a friend.

"For him to be able to express that is largely as a result of the fact that he's been in this camp, and working with friends all week long," she said.

Camp adapted for children

The camp for children ages six to 10 was run in partnership with Bloor Hollandview Hospital in Toronto, Google Canada and First Canada, an organization that organizes STEM programs for youth across Canada.

First Canada routinely runs robotics camps, but this time helped develop one specifically designed for kids with disabilities.

"Any adaptation to the learning is what's unique about this camp," Kenney said.

Student volunteers like Morgan Maher, who is a member of the robotics team at Elmira District Secondary School, learned about working with kids and providing a service in the community at the same time.

"I think I'm learning more than them honestly," Maher said.

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