Friday, February 23 , 2018, 10:29 pm | Fair 42º


Elings Park, PeerBuddies Team Up to Offer Inclusion Camp

Children ages 4 to 17 with special needs can enjoy the full range of summer camp activities

Elings Park has partnered with PeerBuddies to launch their first-ever inclusive summer camp this summer.

Children ages 4 to 17 with special needs will have the opportunity to fully integrate into Elings Park summer camp activities with support from same-aged Peer Buddy volunteers and supervision from trained UCSB and Westmont College students.

Inclusion Camp will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, July 23-27. Elings Summer Camp activities range from hikes and group games to special presentations and team sports, and Inclusion Campers are included in it all.

Peer Buddy volunteers, ages 8 to 18, provide 1-to-1 social support to each camper, and every dyad is overseen by a UCSB or Westmont facilitator trained by PeerBuddies Director Elika Shahrestani.

PeerBuddies, launched in July 2011, is a local organization that pairs individuals with special needs (autism, Asperger syndrome, Down syndrome, or individuals who are simply “shy”) with typically developing and highly motivated peer buddies who teach them social skills in community-based settings. The program is supervised by Shahrestani, a board-certified behavior analyst.

“We are so excited for this opportunity to work with Elings and integrate our campers,” Shahrestani said.

Elings Park is the largest privately funded park in America.

“We are very proud to offer our Inclusion Camp Program in partnership with PeerBuddies, fulfilling a need for programs such as this one in our community,” said Predrag Novakovic, senior director of operations at Elings Park.

For more information, click here or contact PeerBuddies at 805.620.7337 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Elings Park at 805.569.5611 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Elika Shahrestani is the director of PeerBuddies.

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