By Alyssa Schnugg
For two days this past weekend children with Down syndrome enjoyed the fun and camaraderie that Camp Hopewell brings as they played, swam and created art while enjoying the sounds of laughter and joy.
Sponsored by 21 United of Mississippi, the camp is for individuals with Down syndrome and their immediate family members.
“Unlike most camps where it’s just the kids, the parents stay here, too, and are able to get involved in the activities with their child,” said Scott Thompson, president and founder of 21 United. “Kids with Down syndrome spend so much time in physical and speech therapy. Here, they just get to play and have fun.”
Thanks to the Buddy Walk that 21 United holds each October, the two-day camp is free for all campers and their families.
“They participate in typical camp activities,” Thompson said. “Swimming, art, archery, canoeing, arts and crafts, and the parents are offered educational programs as well, or just time to sit and share their experiences. They learn they aren’t alone.”
The campers and their parents welcomed a special guest Friday. University of Mississippi men’s basketball coach Kermit Davis, his wife, Betty and their 30-year-old daughter, Ally, who has Down’s syndrome, visited the camp and spent more than two hours sharing their experiences raising their daughter and the many transitions they went through as she grew to adulthood.
The Davis family recently moved to Oxford after Davis was hired as head coach. Their other daughter, Claire, attends Mississippi State University as a business major.
“We are fortunate to have speakers with such a wealth of knowledge and personal experience joining us this year,” Thompson said. “As parents of children with Down syndrome, we want to make sure they get the very best education possible and that the siblings get the attention they also need and deserve.”
Created by three Oxford families, 21 United of Mississippi is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the inclusion, value and acceptance of individuals with Down syndrome.
For more information, contact Scott Thompson at 662-816-9898 or firstname.lastname@example.org.