CHEO’s Recreational Therapy Program Begins Its Summer Camp

It’s the first day of camp for Ottawa youth at the Canada Agricultural Food Museum, part of a program for children with physical or developmental disabilities.

“I have to mention a rabbit called Bella,” said Jacob Landriault, learning firsthand what it takes to care for animals on a farm.

“Agriculture, we don’t talk about that much in school anymore, so it’s nice to give agricultural education in a nice setting and to relate it to their lives,” says Renee Gingras at the museum.

For Landriault, this week-long camp also develops the skills of others through CHEO’s recreation therapy program, which helps children ages seven to 12 living with physical or developmental disabilities such as autism.

“Many of our kids have a really hard time getting along with their peers,” says recreation therapist Ashley Hilliard

She says participating in these types of camps helps children gain the confidence they need to participate in large social gatherings in a safe and supportive way.

“Having a smaller group of kids seeing them for four or five days in a row really helps with their social interactions and building those connections,” Hilliard said.

“I made a friend, all the animals are cute and it was a fun time,” said 11-year-old Celes Feltmate. “This place is fun. Having friends makes it a lot more fun.”

CHEO expects about 40 children to participate in the program this year, which will run until the end of August. This particular camp runs until Friday, but Landriault is already looking forward to next summer.

“I just love it, I want to come back here next year,” Landriault said.

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