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Camp Shriver inspires athletes with disabilities

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: Nick Swann - 7:19 PM July 17, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

What began as one woman’s dream and a fun backyard summer camp has grown into the Special Olympics.

The global movement has changed lives and attitudes for more than 50 years.

Each summer, Special Olympics Alaska continues the tradition of Camp Shriver.

The camp highlights a different sport every day. On Thursday, the focus was softball when friendships were formed and life lessons were learned.

For 17-year-old Madelyn Authement, that’s what it’s all about.

“It’s getting much easier,” Madelyn said of the game.

Camp Shriver is not your typical summer camp. It thrives on empowering teens with intellectual disabilities.

It was an even playing field Thursday — half of the participants have disabilities and half of them don’t.

“For me, the coolest part about Camp Shriver is just being able to make new friends and playing sports with them,” said volunteer Dakota Jones. ”I’ve made lifelong friendships here because of that and I think that’s the coolest part of being involved with Special Olympics.”

Off the field, campers learned how to regain their energy by eating healthy. Camp Shriver is one of the first opportunities Special Olympics Alaska has had to teach nutrition classes in its new kitchen.

“The kids are really excited about the hands-on activity of doing it themselves, and being able to do the right portions sizes and measure it out,” said Sarah Arts, director of sports and programs for Special Olympics Alaska.

Madelyn didn’t keep score of the softball game. She was just trying to have fun just like all her peers.

That’s the whole point of Camp Shriver.

Through sports, the lives of people with intellectual disabilities are transformed and perceptions of their abilities are changed forever.

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