Kids with disabilities shine at Camp Exceptional

Kids with disabilities shine at Camp Exceptional

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by Cathy Marshall, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on July 17, 2014 at 5:30 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 17 at 5:30 AM

HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. -- Well-known sports columnist John Canzano is taking on a new role this week as the founder of a summer camp.

“Too many times, kids with disabilities are put in their own group. I say let’s put them with the kids who don’t have physical and mental challenges,” Canzano said.

It’s the idea behind the first ever “Camp Exceptional” happening this week at Clackamas Community College.

“In school, kids with disabilities can be made fun of and lose confidence, but here, they gain some of that confidence back,” explained 8th grade camper Riley Kramer.

John came up with the idea because his brother Ben is an adaptive PE teacher in California.

“We work on the fundamental skills for several sports and we have games that make everybody successful,” explained Ben Canzano.

The campers range in age from 5 to 14. Some have Downs Syndrome while others are autistic.

“A lot of kids aren’t going to get this encouragement in everyday life and this will be something they remember for a very long time,” said volunteer Kandace Furlong.

For this first year the Canzano brothers agreed to keep the number of campers around 50. Next year, they hope to expand in a big way with up to 500 kids.

Some of the campers pay $250 in tuition, while others are on scholarship.

“It’s exciting here,” commented Canzano," I saw Damian Lillard’s shot in Game 6 and today I felt the same thrill just watching these kids laugh and run. That’s what it’s all about.”

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