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Kansas City metro camp allows youth with autism to 'really come alive'

Camp Encourage
Camp Encourage provides traditional camp experiences, such as overnight sessions, ziplining, kayaking, and swimming for youth with and without autism.

Camp Encourage is geared towards youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This is its fifteenth year of serving kids in the Kansas City metro.

Traditional summer camps can be sensory overwhelming for an individual diagnosed with autism, and fitting in with other campers can prove difficult. At Camp Encourage, youth with autism are able to participate in camp activities with careful consideration for sensory and social needs.

The camp provides individualized support plans to help campers have a "traditional camp experience," according to Kelly Lee, co-founder of Camp Encourage.

For kids with autism opportunities are often tied to skill-based programs, according to Madi Holcomb who volunteers at the camp and is an adult diagnosed with autism.

"There aren't that many programs for autistic kids to just be, and to just be with people who are like them," she said.

At Camp Encourage "there's so much, just, joy and fun and silliness. The same as with any group of kids," Holcomb said. "You see kids really come alive."

Camp Encourage 15th Anniversary, 4 p.m. — 6 p.m. Sunday, June 5 at the TimberRidge Adventure Center ,12300 S Homestead Ln., Olathe, Kansas 66061. RSVP required

  • Kelly Lee, executive director, Camp Encourage
  • Madi Holcomb, board of directors, Camp Encourage
  • Jeff Nessel, parent, Camp Encourage
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