'Let's go to blind camp!' TikToker showcases the importance of inclusive summer camps

Three images from left to right: TikToker Anthony S Ferraro faces the camera and says "This camp has really been incredible to see these kids blossom," A group of kids at Camp Abilities cheer, and Anthony says, "We even made tie dye!"

On June 27, TikTok influencer and accessibility activist Anthony S. Ferraro invited viewers to go back to summer camp for the day. 

“Let’s go to Camp Abilities!” Ferraro said in front of a crowd of young campers. “This is going to be epic.” 

Throughout his video, Ferraro and his family tie-dyed t-shirts, played sports, and joined campers in the dining hall for pizza. 

But this particular summer camp — Camp Abilities — is unique. It’s specially designed with blind, deafblind, and have low vision campers in mind. 

“We got this whole lobby full of games and activities!” Ferraro said on his way to the camp gym, where kids played goalball with Mindy Cook, an athlete who competed in the 2020 Summer Paralympics. 

At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Ferraro explained that everyone walks together from the dorms to the dining hall. 

“They teach them cane techniques and how to navigate confidently,” Ferraro said, tapping his own cane as he walked. “I’ve even picked up a thing or two.” 

After dinner, Ferraro played guitar and sang for the campers, as his wife and his infant daughter cheered him on. 

“To see these kids blossom and get to learn from each other, and just get out of their comfort zone, and gain so much independence…this place is amazing,” Ferraro told the camera, as the day came to a close. 

According to the 2022 American Community Survey, an estimated 600,000 children in the United States have visual difficulties. 

Although accessibility measures have grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, there are still barriers that people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision encounter daily including employment discrimination, denial of service, and lack of accommodation. That's why places like Camp Abilities are so necessary, so that everyone has a community they can call home, even when they're up against obstacles.

Camp Abilities was first founded in Brockport, NY in 1996 by Doctors Lauren Lieberman and Monica Lepore. 

Over the course of 29 years, the camp has served over 1,400 campers and has been a vital resource for children and teenagers who want to live, learn, and play in an environment that caters to their needs. 

One camper, Enrique Lomeli, said that the camp has helped him gain the confidence to play sports for the first time. 

His favorite game? Goalball — a sport almost exclusively played by blind or partially blind athletes in which two teams of three score points with a basketball-sized ball and defend their goals from opponents. 

“I was scared to do it, but now I’m brave to do it,” Lomeli told KGUN Tuscon

@asfvision

Let’s go to blind camp 👨🏻‍🦯‍➡️👩🏻‍🦯🦮🦯👀😎👁️🕶️

♬ original sound - Anthony S. Ferraro

Back at Camp Abilities, Ferraro thought back on his own childhood, and how life changing it had been for him to attend “a blind camp” growing up. 

“Getting to interact with peers that are going through similar struggles, that your regular friends might not be going through, it’s like meeting family,” Ferraro said, while wearing his freshly tie-dyed Camp Abilities tee.

“I can’t even describe the joy it brings.”

Header images via Anthony S Ferraro / TikTok

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June 28, 2024 1:41 PM
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