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County's Adaptive Programs Ensure Everyone Has Fun at Camp

Camp Sparks and inclusive activities are for children and teens with disabilities

Hillsborough County has adaptive summer programs for children, teens, and young adults with varied levels of physical and mental disabilities.

Camp Sparks is exclusively for young people with disabilities, ages 5-22. Each applicant is evaluated, and placed with campers facing similar challenges. The summer and after-school program has a 1-to-6 staff-to-student ratio.

Children, teens, and young adults with disabilities who wish to interact with able-bodied peers can opt to register for inclusive camp. The program is for ages 5-17.

It's not too late to register for these and other summer camps run by Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation. The camps take place at specified facilities throughout the county. There are five sessions, from June 4 through Aug. 3.

Find More Therapeutic and Inclusion Recreation Programs

Montana Murphy, 14, first attended Camp Sparks when she was 7. She had so much fun, her parents enrolled her in an after-school Parks & Recreation program. She now participates in inclusive activities and Special Olympics.

Montana is intellectually disabled and has physical limitations, but she overcomes everything, says her mom, Arlyne Murphy. In the fall, Montana begins ninth grade at Gaither High School.

Arlyne attributes much of her daughter's success and positive attitude to Parks & Recreation's adaptive programs. "I cannot say enough wonderful things about it," she says. "We just saw how much she enjoyed the program and how much she was growing."

Participating alongside able-bodied children and teens in inclusive activities has been terrific. Coaches and supervisors deal effectively with Montana's disabilities, and ensure she is as involved in activities as everyone.

"More parents need to know about this," Arlyne says. "It's hard to find a place for our special needs kids. I don't worry when Montana is at camp. I know she's safe. I know she's taken care of. I know she's having fun."

Photo Information: Montana Murphy with staff at Northdale Recreation Center.

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