Camp Breakaway

Kate O’Toole, MISP Instructor and massage therapist

As soon as I heard about the MISP course I knew it was something I wanted to do. As soon as the first day of the course was over I knew exactly where I could utilize my new skills.

I have been a massage therapist for some time now and I have had the opportunity to work with children in my clinic. I have also been given the opportunity to work with children and their families in a respite camp environment. Having previously worked with people who have disabilities I knew this was going to make an impact to their lives. I knew the course would help the children and their families to interact on a different level and to cope with the stress of their daily lives. So armed with the skills I had learned and my enthusiasm for the MISP course I approached the camp development administrator about implementing a course into their camps that would be interactive, fun for the children and introduce the concept of touch into their lives.

When I was told the camp would like to run a trial course for a small group of high needs children I was excited and a little apprehensive. How would I implement it over two days? What changes would I have to make? Would the children (high needs) understand the concept? Would they even want to participate?

I put together a routine that I called Connecting Children and Families. It was short, interactive, and I hoped that the children would find it fun, easy to learn and the children and parents/careers would enjoy it. At the camp we started by playing some touch games (“Pizza” and “writing names”) This worked well, then the children participated in the routine. While it took a little longer for them to get the movements they still seemed to really enjoy the process and moving along with the pictures, by the end of the session I could see a change in the children. This was exciting as I felt I had really achieved what I had set out to do.

“During a camp last week for children with high needs we agreed to trial a new program. These children had varying degrees of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, Global Development Delay, ODD, Tourettes & Autism. Each child that participated really enjoyed their session. Some of these children come to more than one camp each year and are hoping to see Kate again next time. The children’s carers were also impressed – the carers were still talking about the calming effect on the children days later.”
Merilyn Bailey (Options & Camp Development Administrator, Camp Breakaway)

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