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Summer 2004 Table of Contents
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Summer of Sights: Summer Enrichment Program for Students with Visual Impairments

By Keri Harvey, M.Ed., COMS; Kathy Tomlin, M.Ed., CTVI; and Mary Ann Foster, CTVI, Grayson County Special Education Co-op

Abstract: The Grayson County Special Education Co-op sponsors an annual two-week summer enrichment program to teach compensatory skills to academic students with visual impairments.

Key Words: Programming, summer, special program, Co-op, academic, visually impaired

Summer of Sights is a two-week summer enrichment program for students with visual impairments in grades 1-11. It is specifically designed for the academic visually impaired students who are served by the Grayson County Special Education Co-op. The Co-op serves 11 small school districts throughout Grayson County. These academic visually impaired students are usually the only visually impaired student in their schools, giving them very little opportunity to meet and socialize with other visually impaired students. The CTVI (Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired) and COMS (Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist) observed that Life Skills students are provided many opportunities throughout the regular school year to address compensatory skills. However, the academic visually impaired students do not always experience these same opportunities. So the Summer of Sights was developed with one of its purposes being the opportunity for these students to meet and socialize with other visually impaired students.

The CTVI and COMS begin each summer's planning by brainstorming about the focus for the summer program. Last year, 2003, the focus of the program was daily living skills and social skills. This year, 2004, the focus of the program is recreation/leisure activities and social skills. After deciding on the focus of the summer activities, the CTVI and COMS prepared a proposal for the director of the Special Education Co-op to review. The proposal included the focus, activities, personnel needs, transportation needs, and budget. The proposal was presented, reviewed, and accepted.

Funding

The funding for Summer of Sights is shared between the Grayson County Special Education Co-op and money raised by the VI teachers. For example, the VI money for the 2003 summer program was provided by Mary Ann Foster, one of the VI teachers. She was awarded Teacher of the Year for Cook County and received $1,000 which was shared with the summer program. The second year of the program, $2,000 was provided by the Texoma Regatta fund-raiser, which provides funds for many special needs groups in Grayson County. Examples of how the funding is divided between the Co-op and the VI programs include:

Co-op funding

VI funding

The Summer of Sights Program

Each day begins for the students with the school bus picking them up at their homes. This is a 1.5 to 2 hour process because the students live all over Grayson County. The CTVI and COMS meet the bus at a centrally located school which has been chosen to house the summer program. It is important to have access to an oven and a gym for the "camp" activities. After the bus ride, the camper's day begins at 9 am and ends at 3 pm. The first year, 2003, the Homemaking classroom was used as the home base. The second year, 2004, the PPCD room is the camp classroom.

The following schedule is from the 2003 year of SOS. This is very typical of the activities that the COMS and CTVI found to be appropriate for the goal of this camp, daily living skills and social skills. It is important to remember that each community offers different opportunities of enrichment.

Schedule for Week 1

Day 1:
The CTVI and COMS developed the menu for the week. The students were involved in the menu planning process. For example, they helped decide how much food would be needed for the two weeks of camp. Next they had to decide what kitchen equipment would be needed to cook the food they had chosen. After making the grocery list, everyone went out to lunch at a Mexican food restaurant in Gainesville. After lunch, the campers and teachers went to Super Wal-Mart to buy the items on their grocery list. Once at the store, the students were divided into several groups and the list was divided among the students. The students shopped for the food, checked out at the store, and returned to the school. The students then put the food away in the cabinets, refrigerator, and pantry.
Day 2:
Brownies were the order of the day_the students prepared brownies. The recipe on the brownie box was enlarged so the low vision students could follow the directions on the box. A Braille copy of the recipe was provided to the Braille reader. As the students prepared their brownies, Kitra Gray, Christy Householder and Randy Foederer from the Region 10 ESC set up the goal-ball court in the gym for the students. This support staff from Region 10 was crucial in teaching the students the rules of goal-ball. The students also had scooter board races in the gym after many goal ball activities. After goal ball and scooter board races in the gym, the students, teachers, and support staff from Region 10 returned to the classroom where the students prepared homemade pizzas and salad.
Day 3:
The students did motor activities in the gym to begin this day 3. These motor skills included goal-ball, scooter boards and basketball. Part of the social skill activities included playing adapted board games and card games. UNO in Braille and Braille playing cards were used to play several games. As the younger students played the card and board games, the older students prepared lunch. Lunch today include quesadillas, queso, and fruit. After lunch we all went swimming in a local community swimming pool. Prior arrangements had been made with the director of the swimming pool for the camp to have the exclusive use of the pool. The community volunteered the use of two lifeguards the entire time the campers swam.
Day 4:
The campers traveled to Dallas to Capers for Kids. This is a participant oriented drama program. Our campers were met by the director of Capers for Kids. It did not take long for her to have our campers in the process of showing different emotions. After we learned several emotions and how to "act," our campers donned elaborate costumes. With care and direction the campers performed a short skit that was designed to enhance the self-esteem of the students. Several of the students commented that acting in a skit at Capers for Kids was their favorite activity at SOS. We loaded back into the bus for our short ride to the Olive Garden Restaurant, by the way, where our campers were readily provided with a Braille menu.
Day 5:
This day was an evaluation and planning day for the COMS and the CTVI. This provides an opportunity to put the first week's pictures into scrapbook form. Then plans were made for the next week of camp. The students did not attend camp this day.

Schedule for Week 2

Day 6:
The group ventured to Stonebriar Mall in Frisco. The younger students went to Build a Bear where they were helped in the design, creation and naming of their own personal bear. As the younger students built their bear, the older students conducted an orienteering activity in the Mall. All students then were given $10 to buy their own lunches in the Food Court at the mall.
Day 7:
Therapeutic horseback riding was on the agenda for today. This was also very good self-esteem building activity for the campers. When the camper would climb into the saddle on the horse, the student's face would just beam with joy. After everyone had a turn riding a horse, the group made their way to Chuck E. Cheeses for lunch. The COMS had saved up coupons for free tokens and $10 pizzas.
Day 8:
The day began with motor activities in the gym. Afterwards, the students played adapted board games and card games. For lunch today the menu included sandwiches, dirt cups and kool-aid. After cleaning up the kitchen from lunch and a brief rest period, all the campers went swimming, again, at the community swimming pool.
Day 9:
All Aboard!!!!!! Today began by making our sack lunches to carry with us as we prepared for a train ride to Fort Worth. At this time the older students also prepared cookie dough for the family picnic day planned for day 10. When lunches were packed and the cookie dough was prepared, we loaded on a school bus to travel from camp to Gainesville. In Gainesville we boarded the Amtrak for the exciting train ride to Fort Worth. Upon arrival in Fort Worth the school bus picked us up at the train station and carried the campers to The Light House for the Blind for a personal tour with our guide, Wayne Pound. The school bus carried all the campers and teachers back to the school. Due to the activities and the train's schedule, our day was a little longer than usual.
Day 10:
Family picnic day for the campers of Summer of Sights. The students spent almost all morning preparing for the family picnic. They prepared brownies, cookies, hamburger patties, tea and kool-aid. The school bus transported the students to the park where the campers were able to play on the playground equipment in the City Park. Hamburgers and hot dogs were prepared on a barbeque grill for all of the campers and their family. By noon all families were there along with grand parents, brothers and sisters, and even some family pets. Everyone enjoyed the cook out and visiting with the teachers and other campers.

Summary

Summer of Sights is an enrichment camp for students with visual impairment. It is intended to address the Expanded Core Curriculum skills. The students were sent home from camp with a two month calendar which listed a specific activity to complete each day. It was great to watch these students bond with other students with visual impairments. They do not always have an opportunity to do any type of bonding with other visually impaired students during the school year because they are often the only VI student in their school community. Every camper's parent or guardian commented about how excited their child was each day when they came home from camp.

Forms and printed materials used for Summer of Sights (scanned images of material - 57mb)


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Last Revision: September 1, 2010