Camp Aldersgate receives grants, forms new partnerships

Adults with special needs participated in a March 13-15 Weekend Camp at Camp Aldersgate. COURTESY PHOTO

Adults with special needs participated in a March 13-15 Weekend Camp at Camp Aldersgate.

Two recent grants and a new weekend camp have made news at Camp Aldersgate, a mission institution of United Methodist Women. Situated on 120 acres in Little Rock, Camp Aldersgate creates life-changing experiences for individuals with special needs, enabling them to expand their worlds and express their unique voices.

Reeve Foundation grant: Camp Aldersgate has received a $4,615 Quality of Life grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. The award was one of 75 grants by the foundation totaling more than $600,000 awarded to nonprofit organizations that provide more opportunities, access and daily quality of life for individuals living with paralysis, their families and caregivers. Conceived by the late Dana Reeve, the Quality of Life program has awarded more than 2,400 grants totaling over $18 million since 1999.

Camp Aldersgate will use the grant to support the 2015 Resource and Camp Day for children who utilize respiratory technology, their siblings and caregivers.

“This Quality of Life gift affirms Camp Aldersgate’s mission of providing life-changing experiences for individuals with special needs,” said Sarah Wacaster, Camp Aldersgate CEO, in a March 5 news release. “It is a privilege that this foundation continues to help and expand Camp Aldersgate’s programming.”

Grant creates partnership among West Little Rock Rotary Club, Museum of Discovery, Camp Aldersgate: The Museum of Discovery on Feb. 10 announced a new collaborative partnership with Camp Aldersgate and the West Little Rock Rotary Club. Over three years, the West Little Rock Rotary Club will provide volunteers and $33,450 to create opportunities for Museum of Discovery educators to provide hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs for children, youth and senior adults at Camp Aldersgate.

The Museum of Discovery and Camp Aldersgate staff will deliver STEM education outreach programs at Camp Aldersgate on topics ranging from the human body, engineering and animals to earth sciences and tinkering. Also included in the grant are sensory-friendly family events for Camp Aldersgate campers and their families at the Museum of Discovery.

The final component of the grant will provide a chicken coop for Camp Aldersgate to implement a new animal therapy program for children with special needs.

New camp for adults with special needs: 2015 marked the first year for a partnership between Camp Aldersgate and Group Living, Inc., to provide camping experiences for adults with special needs. The March 13-15 Weekend Camp provided outdoor experiences for 26 adults with special needs. Structured programs included fishing, canoeing, carousel rides, team-building and additional outdoor, camp-related activities. First United Methodist Church Arkadelphia provided eight volunteers and raised funds to help this camp happen.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity provided by someplace as special as Camp Aldersgate,” said Yukiko Taylor, co-director of day services and development for Group Living, Inc., in a March 9 news release. “The chances the people we serve will be given here are not only fun and exciting, but also confidence building and normalizing. Everyone deserves the chance to enjoy nature and all its beauty. Camp Aldersgate ensures that everyone can.”