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Published 7/26/2004

Owens Students Touch the Lives of Area Youth During Muscular Dystrophy Camp, July 25-31

Thinking back to those days of summer camp can kindle memories of odd- tasting meatloaf, late-night ghost stories or adventurous dares. But for some Northwest Ohio campers and counselors, summer camp means more than just a week of freedom and fun. It is a life-altering experience for youth with neuromuscular diseases, as well as Owens Community College Health Technologies students.

For the past four years, Owens Physical Therapist Assistant and Occupational Therapy Assistant program students have been touching the lives of area children who have a form of muscular dystrophy, while also preparing themselves for careers as health care professionals. In collaboration with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Owens students serve as fun-loving camp counselors to about 40 campers annually as part of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Summer Camp. This year's weeklong, overnight camp occurs July 25-31 at Camp Miakonda in Sylvania.

"The Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp is a highly rewarding and special experience for both the campers and the Owens counselors," said Lee Grinonneau, Owens Chair of the Physical Therapist Assistant Program. "While Owens students learn how to provide the children with the varied skills to function actively and independently, the campers joyously give their gifts of love, friendship and curiosity in return."

The purpose of the camp is to spotlight the special abilities of each individual through a variety of activities. The schedule of events includes arts and crafts, sports games, swimming, tailgate parties, Elvis impersonators, magicians, and motorcycle rides. Owens counselors assist in the activities while providing comprehensive care and support for daily living.

Owens students serving as volunteer counselors receive academic credit toward an associate degree within the Physical Therapist Assistant or Occupational Therapy Assistant programs. An associate degree in these program areas affords graduates the opportunity to take the state licensure exam and become a licensed physical or occupational therapy assistant.

"Aiding the Muscular Dystrophy Association campers is an excellent approach to fulfilling the clinical education coursework that is required of Owens physical and occupational therapy assistant participants," said Beth Ann Kneisley, Owens Chair of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. "Functioning as attendants to youth of varied ages and abilities give the students a unique educational opportunity to apply their classroom-based knowledge to an interactive, enriched setting."

Kneisley added that the Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp has become so popular among Owens students that both health programs must now use a lottery system in order to select qualified participants. The bond between campers and counselors has become so strong in previous years that several Owens graduates return to assist with summer camp on an annual basis, she said.

"This is truly a special experience where friendships are joined and maintained between the counselors and the campers," said Barb Brady, the Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp Director. "I look forward to this year's summer camp when positive memories are created, new skills are developed and lasting relationships are formed."

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Ohio with 28 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 44,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for Northwest Ohio college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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