Brockport, New York – For some things in life you just need a little help.
“For reference, I never played normal baseball and I don’t understand the rules,” said camper Diana Murray.
That doesn’t stop Murray from playing and swinging for the fences. “Knowing where your boundaries are I think is very important,” said Murray. “We place a lot of emphasis on telling people that you can do things.”
Camp Abilities helps young people prove that. Braiden Wingrove has been coming here since he was 9. “I was a newbie,” said Wingrove. “I didn’t, I didn’t know a single thing about blind sports till I came to Camp Abilities.“
In 1996, the adaptive sports camp opened on the SUNY Brockport campus.
This is the 25th year of in-person activities after two years of virtual camp because of the pandemic. “We have tandem biking, we have stand-up paddleboarding on the canal,” said camp founder Lauren Lieberman. “We have beep baseball, which is a blind spot and then we have blind soccer, which is a Paralympic sport.“
Lieberman is a professor who saw a need for visually impaired children. “They fall in love with physical activity, despite the visual impairment, and they become leaders in the field can ask for more than that,” she said.
“I just thought it was plain old impossible for me to do, to do sports like running because you got to, because most people, you gotta be able to see to do it,” Wingrove said. “I even thought it was impossible for blind people to ride a bike.”
Here, they learn they can. “I think especially in younger years, camp helps a lot with self-advocacy,” said Murray. “So if you do want to play after-school sports, which I personally don’t. I really only do sports here. You know that you can go up to your phys ed teacher and say, hey, I want to join the track and field team. This is what you need to do to accommodate me so I can do this and I can do this. You just have to give me X, Y, and Z.”
It isn’t always easy. “I think Camp Abilities has made a huge impact on my life.”