UT students go to camp to help kids with disabilities

UT students go to camp to help kids with disabilities

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The UT student counselors are required to take a 14-week training course. The UT student counselors are required to take a 14-week training course.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

CROSSVILLE (WATE) - More than 200 University of Tennessee students are in Crossville this week serving as counselors for local kids with disabilities.

Camp Koinonia means "caring community" in Greek, and that's exactly what the place has become, thanks to UT's Therapeutic Recreation program.

"You become like a big family. Anything is really possible," said UT senior and first time counselor Heather Shultz.

The UT student counselors, who can come from any major, are required to take a 14-week training course.

"I believe you can't just learn stuff out of a book. You need to really practice what you're learning," said UT professor Dr. Gene Hayes, who started the camp 35 years ago hoping to give kids with severe disabilities the most typical summer camp experience possible.

"We have canoeing, horseback riding, music and moving, sports and games," Hayes said.

"There are so many things you can work towards, whether it's socialization, communication or independent living skills," said UT student counselor Rebecca Goldman.

"I went horseback riding!" exclaimed Hannah McElroy, 16, who has Spina Bifida.

The UT students said they get just as much out of this week as their campers.

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