Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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July 22, 2014 - 3:11pm
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  Students in Pearl River Community College’s occupational therapy assistant program left the classroom to spend three days in the July heat at  Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp.
  The camp held the week of July 21 at Camp Iti Kana served 100 adults with cognitive disabilities ranging in age from 22 to 65. Approximately 115 volunteers - 75 staff and 40 high school-age counselors - made the week a vacation for the campers.
  For the PRCC OTA students, three days at camp gives the students a different perspective than they get through clinical or classroom work, program director Tim Pulver said.
  “The best therapy involves fun,” he said. “Being involved with that at camp, you get that mentality. This is what I call an idealized environment - everybody is treated equally rather than based on ability. That transforms students’ thinking.”
  He has been bringing third-semester students to Civitan Camp since 2004.
  “They’re able to offer support to our teenage counselors because they don’t know about adults with disabilities,” camp director Kay Boone said. “They’re able to adapt games for adults with disabilities. They’re able to adapt things to make them work.”
  OTA student Kristian Wilson of Hattiesburg first volunteered as a teenage counselor in 2009. The experience brought her to the OTA program.
  “It was my entire decision,” she said. “Being around them made me know what it was I wanted to do.”
  During a break from play rehearsal, camper Regina Young of Hattiesburg rushed up to hug Wilson and invite her to come back for the Thursday night performance.
  “She’s been my best friend in the whole world,” Young said.
  The camp gives the students a different view of what they are learning, instructor Debbie Goldberg said.
  “The focus during field work may be on what a patient can’t do,” she said. “They may be able to draw on their experience at camp and turn it more toward what they can do.”
  The students acompanied campers to the petting zoo set up by Lee’s Lane Farms, helped them ride horses from Pink Cactus Horse Camp in Hattiesburg and played soccer, kickball and basketball - all before lunch time.
  The camp, funded by the Civitan Club and other donors, has three missions, Boone said. The first is to give the adult campers a vacation; the second to provide a time of relaxation for the campers’ parents or caregivers. The PRCC students benefit from the third mission, she said.
  “We look at part of our role as building leaders among our counselors and staff,” Boone said.


Pearl River Community College occupational therapy assistant student Kristian Wilson of Hattiesburg shares a moment with Regina Young, also of Hattiesburg, at the Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp on Tuesday, July 22.
PRCC Public Relations photo

Gary Pates, a camper at the Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp, pets a goat from Lee’s Lane Farms while Pearl River Commmunity College occupational therapy assistant student Jessica Shows of Soso holds it still. PRCC’s OTA students are spending three days helping at the camp.
PRCC Public Relations photo

Pearl River Community College occupational therapy assistant students play kickball with campers Billy Ray Taylor of Ocean Springs and April Bowman of Hattiesburg, second and third from left, at the Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp on Tuesday, July 22.
PRCC Public Relations photo

Julie Leslie of Clinton, a camper at the Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp, gets on a horse with help from Pearl River Community College occupational therapy assistant students Mallory Knighton of Centreville (in cap) and Erica Cornelison of Pelathatchie while Misty Smith of Pink Cactus Horse Camp in Hattiesburg holds the horse.
PRCC Public Relations photo