WMU Home > About WMU > WMU News

WMU News

Blind athletes, volunteers gather for sports camps

May 3, 2007

KALAMAZOO--For the 20th straight year, student athletes with visual impairments and volunteers from across Michigan and other states will flock to the Western Michigan University campus May 6-12 to attend a sports camp that will let athletes sharpen their skills.

The 20th Annual Sports Education Camp for Students with Visual Impairments, sponsored by the WMU Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies and the Michigan Blind Athletic Association, offers a Junior Camp May 6-8 for athletes aged 10-12 and a Senior Camp May 9-12 for those aged 13-16.

Athletes this year are mostly from Michigan, but some are coming from neighboring states and as far away as Georgia and possibly Alaska. In previous years, students have come from North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maine, Alaska, Canada and West Virginia in addition to Georgia.

Volunteers are also a big part of the camps, and organizers urge local high school students and adults to sign up. Volunteers also come from as far west as Colorado, as far east as Maine and points in between to assist with the camps. Many are former camper athletes.

Volunteers are needed to donate anywhere from a morning, afternoon or evening up to 50 hours as sports teachers, group leaders, drivers, guide runners or as general helping hands. Critical needs include gymnasts, guide runners, swimmers, wrestlers and people to help manage students staying in the dorms and as they move throughout the campus.

Over the course of two decades, the sports camps, created by Dr. Paul Ponchillia, WMU associate professor of blindness and low vision studies, have become a national model for other communities. The junior camps offer a series of clinics designed to teach younger students fundamental athletic skills, while the senior camp's clinics teach older students intermediate athletic skills. Everything culminates in the final event, the Michigan State Games, which offer an opportunity for students to compete as an individual or on a team.

The camps are designed to introduce students with visual impairments to sports and recreational activities and to provide training to those demonstrating athletic potential. Junior Camp activities will include introductory running, throwing, jumping, swimming, gymnastics, wrestling, bowling, judo, and goalball. Senior Camp activities will include track and field, swimming, wrestling, goalball, cycling, power lifting and judo.

Athletes who attend the camps have the unique opportunity to interact with others who have the same difficulties in physical education as they do.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact sec@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3449.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400