Water wheelchairs make pool fun possible

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Camp Barnabas camper Watson Polk has a look of pure glee on his face as he experiences the fun of the swimming pool for the first time, thanks to the assistance of a water wheelchair. The camp is currently asking for donations of $200, which covers the cost of a new chair and enables children with disabilities to enjoy fun in the water, a traditional summertime activity for children. Contributed photo

Camp Barnabas seeks donations to cover cost of chairs

One of the most popular and traditional activities at any summer camp is playing in the swimming pool.

But, for a child with a chronic illness or disability, a simple activity can be difficult to do. Camp Barnabas, a summer camp based in rural Purdy near Pioneer helps ensure every camper, even those with disabilities, gets to enjoy the same summer fun with water wheelchairs.

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“We have a zero entry pool and help campers move from their wheelchairs to a water wheelchair,” said Krystal Simon, chief development officer for the camp. “It allows us to safely transport them from their existing wheelchair over the concrete to the pool [rather than carrying them]. Some campers choose to stay in the wheelchair once in the water and experience the splashing area, while others choose to go further, and we’ll take them out of the wheelchair with their life vest on.”

Campers like Watson Polk experienced pure joy, when, for the first time, he got to enjoy the same fun in the water that children without disabilities take for granted.

Due to a new partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the camp has had more campers come on board, increasing supply needs.

“We need more water wheelchairs, as we have more campers with disabilities, and we wanted to replace several of our older models of water wheelchairs to give campers a more fun experience,” Simon said. “They’re incredibly functional.”

The cost of a chair is $200.

“The price point is relatively low,” Simon said. “For $200, a lot of our donors feel like they can give that over the course of a couple months, so it allows them to support our ministry in a cool way and be able to see an immediate impact [of their gift].

“Ideally, we’re hoping to get 15, and up to this point, we have eight chairs committed. You can help support our ministry and allow campers who use wheelchairs to continue to enjoy the same pool experience by donating to this cause.”

Simon said the camp has been focusing on micro-fundraisers lately to help meet practical needs.

“We’ll continue to do these in the future,” she said. “It allows donors the opportunity to see our ministry in action. We’ve grown our team so we’ve been able to bring on some amazing individuals who share our passion.

“We’ve always done these, but haven’t been able to share them consistently. So, we’ve been able to take more time to share what’s happening, and it allows us, in effect, to show donors where their gift is going, so I hope we’re doing a better job of that with our community partners.”

In addition to water wheelchairs, the camp is also in need of the following items to help make camp happen this summer:

• Large capacity washers and dryers

• Diving board for swimming pool

• 8-foot tables

• Fishing poles

• Themed party decorations

Funds given toward camp operations ensure camper safety, comfort, accessibility, and help keep activities running smoothly.

To make a donation, people may call Simon at 417-708-5297, or reach her by email at: krystal@campbarnabas.org

Camp starts June 3 and goes through the first week of August.

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