Aphasia Camp 2008

Aphasia Camp 2008

 “I have learned more than I could have imagined.  I was inspired by everyone at the camp” (UWO SLP student)

 “There was a great emphasis on keeping a positive attitude while living with aphasia, which helps with the coping process” (family member)

 “#1 weekend of my life” (Stephen Goff, person with aphasia and inspiration for Aphasia Camp)

Aphasia Camp 2008 was a weekend camp for people with aphasia and their caregivers, to help them to live more successfully with aphasia.  It was held Sept 19-21, 2008 at Tim Horton Onondaga Farms near Brantford, ON.  It was sponsored by the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre (ARTC), a community-based adult day program for individuals with stroke and other acquired conditions.  The mandate of the ARTC is to help individuals to maintain an optimum level of physical ability, intellectual function and social interaction, and to offer support, respite and information to caregivers.   

The Camp program included: 

          A session for people with aphasia, facilitated by a stroke survivor and SLP

          A session for caregivers, facilitated by a SLP and Social Worker

          Adapted physical activities including golf, biking (recumbent bikes, trikes), hiking, fishing, music, art, crafts, campfire songs, “mocktails” and games night, and chat

          Time for caregivers to meet for informal and facilitated discussion, support and sharing

The camp was intended to help people with aphasia and their caregivers to  live more successfully with aphasia through participation in physical, social and educational activities.  Aphasia training for staff, students and volunteers ensured that all aspects of camp were communicatively accessible and “aphasia-friendly”.  To our knowledge, Aphasia Camp has never been offered in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada.

Campers include 36 people with aphasia and 29 family members/friends from across southern Ontario.  More than 30 staff, students and volunteers worked at Camp.  We had an innovative and mutually beneficial partnership with the University of Western Ontario.  Taz Moosa recruited, trained, and supervised 8 first-year Speech Pathology students, who earned clinical placement hours through this unique opportunity.  The following quotes from the students’ feedback illustrate how their experience at camp took them beyond the classroom:

 

·         I’ve learned much more here that I think I ever could in the classroom (as an SLP student).  Thank you for including us from Western U

·         I’ll think more outside of the therapy room to things and activities we did at camp

·         It will be easier to keep in mind that people live day-to-day with aphasia

·         Building relationships and learning from those with aphasia build a sound clinical foundation for me to work within school.

·         I will feel more comfortable working with people affected by aphasia and those with other communication difficulties

·         I will not avoid issues I feel might emotionally impact a patient, e.g. talking about their stroke

·         I will also work towards building connections with their caregivers.

·         It was a great experience and I learned so much about people with aphasia.  It is a great segway (sic) into clinical practicum to interact with people with aphasia in a recreational setting to become comfortable with supported conversation

·         It was great to put the theoretical to practice.

·         A truly life-changing experience.  I’ve become a better listener, a better communicator, a better clinician and above all a better person because of Aphasia Camp 2008.  Please do this again – people with aphasia (and their families) need it.

·         My experience was AMAZING! 

 

Feedback from campers

Feedback from campers was overwhelmingly positive.  Survey results indicated that the majority of people with aphasia felt that the camp experience would help them to live more successfully with aphasia, and that they intended to become more socially and/or physically active in their own community as a result of Aphasia Camp.  One respondent wrote “maybe even dance”.

 Comments from people with aphasia:

 ·         Fantastic!

·         Treated us so well, normal

·         I learned more patience

·         Great experience

·         I can ride a bike!

·         Relaxed

 Comments from family members: 

·         Inspired by other caregivers in similar situations

·         It was excellent!

·         I enjoyed everything

·         The cost was right for me.  I have a small income.

·         I do not see how Aphasia Camp could be improved

·         We would return.  Great quality of volunteers, well thought-out program, good schedule.

 Another important partnership was with the Ontario March of Dimes.  We benefited from their expertise in offering summer camps to people with physical disabilities.  We will partner with them again to offer Aphasia Camp in September 2009.

 

 

 

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