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Special Olympics takes over Camp Barnes for three days of fun and memories

Special Olympics counselors Annie Manista, left, and Corrin Rogers toss athlete Emma Hines during their fun time at the pool during the 13th Annual Special Olympics Delaware Summer Camp at Camp Barnes. BY DAN COOK
July 19, 2013

Fifty-one Special Olympics Delaware athletes and more than 35 volunteers attended the 13th annual Special Olympics Delaware Summer Camp July 16 to 18 at Camp Barnes in Frankford.

Summer camp is one of the most anticipated events of the year for Special Olympics athletes of all ages and abilities. Campers, who travel from all areas of the state to attend, participate in several traditional camp activities like fishing, canoeing, swimming and crafts, while enjoying the opportunity to reacquaint with old friends and meet new friends during the three-day, two-night camp experience.

For the third consecutive year, 25 high school students volunteered as counselors as part of Special Olympics Delaware’s Project UNIFY initiative. Students took on leadership roles in creating a fun, positive and welcoming environment that develops camaraderie, teamwork and friendship among everyone in attendance.

Special Olympics Project UNIFY, in its fifth year, is an education-based project that uses sports and leadership programs to activate young people to develop school communities where all youth are agents of change, fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

“Project UNIFY summer camp is about three amazing days where students interact with Special Olympics athletes in an inclusive setting to enjoy a traditional camp experience together,” said Kylie Melvin, Project UNIFY coordinator. “The students develop a greater understanding and appreciation of their peers with disabilities, and it serves as a tremendous lesson that all people are more alike than different.”

The mission of Special Olympics Delaware is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.