It is the first of its kind summer camp on Ambergris Caye that caters to very special children in every sense of the word. Ambergris Caye Camp Starfish is dedicated primarily to the needs and caring of special needs children in the island community. Camp Starfish kicked off its summer camp activities on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
It is the first summer camp dedicated to children with mental and/or physical disorders and founders Dalia Alamilla and Dianela Hancock started the camp as a support group for families with special needs children.
“Both of us having special needs children, we created the camp to show families on the island that there is assistance and opportunities available for the development of their children,” commented Dalia Alamilla. She went on to explain that the camp is also a way to come up with an estimate of the population of children with special needs on the island.
Teacher Lupita Ancona conducts session at Camp Starfish
Dianela Hancock says that the camp is being super beneficial for the children and that all of them are enjoying themselves. Activities are being held three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9a.m. to 11a.m. and have been including fun activities like arts & craft, sports and even counseling for the parents, skill enhancement activities for the children that include speech and physical therapy. There is a special trip planned at the end of camp.
Local businesses and restaurants have been gracious enough to donate snacks for the camp during their breaks and volunteer teachers and students have been assisting with the running of the programs and caring for the children. The camp is free of charge with no age limits for the attendants.
Besides providing great activities for the special needs children, another goal of Camp Starfish is to create awareness and educate people about special needs children and the reality of raising and living with them. Their desire is to start breaking social stigmas and show everybody how these children are very much similar to normal children, only that they behave and develop differently.
In the near future, both Alamilla and Hancock plan on establishing a social network of parents with special needs that includes an organization which will provide assistance, counseling and bring specialists to the island to provide therapy.
For more information on Camp Starfish or to make donations and/or volunteer contact Dianela Hancock at 668-4819 or Dalia Alamilla at 662-7880.
“We want these children to be accepted as normal citizens that can contribute to the community,” stated Dalia Alamilla. Ambergris Caye Camp Starfish runs until Saturday, August 9, 2014.
Starfish Camp attendee haveing fun on family day
Camp Starfish Founders Dalia Alamilla (2dn from right) and Dianela Hancock (far right) creating awareness at Reef TV Morning Show