CSU, Chico News

Ability First Campers Learn from World-Class Paralympic Athletes

Date: 06-21-2007

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

Thirty-five youth from all over California, as well as Oregon, Nevada and Washington, are attending the Ability First Sports Camp this week at California State University, Chico. The camp, a one-week residential camp for youth with physical disabilities, emphasizes both sport skill development and socialization.

Laura McLachlin, a professor of therapeutic recreation in the Department of Recreation and Parks Management, has been involved with the camp since 1989, when she came to Chico. “The camp gives these children positive role models and provides them with self-esteem, team-building skills, friendships and an overall sense of fun,” said McLachlin. “It is an experience that influences campers for life; many campers come back to the program as coaches.”

Thirty staff members (70 percent are CSU, Chico alumni) and almost 40 volunteers run the camp. The coaches are paralympic athletes, many of them national record holders. The head coach, Kerry McMurtry, is a world-class water skier.

Students participate in water skiing, track and field events, aquatics and tennis in two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In addition to the sports activities, there are educational sessions, a skit night, pizza night and a formal dance.

McLachlin was invited to the International Paralympics in Torino, Italy, in March 2006 as a distinguished guest of the International Paralympic Committee. In fall 2005, she received the Exemplary Program Award, on behalf of the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and the State Council on Adapted Physical Education, for her involvement in the Ability First Sports Camp at CSU, Chico.

The camp continues through Friday, June 22.