EVANS, G.A. (WJBF) – One local mother and educator is bringing a unique service for children with special needs to Columbia County.
“We definitely wanted to do something geared towards children with special needs,” said Latoya Roper.
Latoya Roper is the owner of Love and Care Special Needs summer camp.
“There’s certaintly a lack for camps as well as just any recreational activities specifically for children with special needs, there are a few in the area but some of the camps are maybe a week camp, but our camp is actually eight weeks,” said Roper.
Roper works in special education, but her experience in guiding children with special needs, hits closer to home.
“We actually have a son that has autism he is going to the eight grade and it’s been just a hard time trying to find something for him to do in the summer, and not only that, but just something for him to do period,” she said.
And that’s what inspired her to start the Love and Care Special Needs summer camp. Roper tells NewsChannel 6 that children with special needs have a hard time intergrating in camps that aren’t geared towards their specific needs.
“In a setting like the Family Y, it’s more of a stressor for our kids to be in a group of 20 kids and they just work better, they’ll get overloaded, sensory overloaded, that’s just too much going on around them, they get nire calm when they’re in a smaller group,” said Roper.
With an experienced staff, Roper says children who enroll in the camp will learn crucial skills to help with their social development.
“We’ll have lots of sensory activities, we’ll have lots of arts and crafts. We’ll actually bring in a karate instructor, and we’ll have those adaptive karate skills being shown to our students, we’ll be doing zumba,” she said.
Roper says they plan to have musicians come out and sing to the children. Kids will be able to participate with instruments of their own, but the camp isn’t just about music and games.
“We’ll be actually be teaching our middle schoolers how to fold their laundry, how to seperate laundry, if you noticed we have some baskets, we’ll be teaching them how to set the table, we’ll be teaching them how to fold clothes, all things that they’ll ned to learn to be able to function independently,” she said.
Employees at the camp will wear masks to adhere to covid guidelines.
“We actually have Jam Pro professional cleaning services and they are actually spraying the entire facility and there covid treatment actually lasts up to 30 days,” said Roper. “We’ll actually have them come out again at the 1st of July so every surface is completely covered with their covid treatment,” she added.
This camp isn’t something Roper put together overnight. She says a lot of research, time, and thought went into this project even down to its name.
“The name Love and Care is special to me, because my grandmother actually passed away in 2018, so she had a daycare for over 30 years and that name Love and Care Childcare is where I got the name from,” she said.
The camp begins June 1st and runs through the 23rd. It’ll be held at Oakey Grove Baptist Church.