The camp at EGHS paired those with disabilities with non-disabled peers
East Greenwich High School kicked off a new summer camp this summer. Organized by Patricia Carosotto and Lisa McKay, the Avenger Inclusion Revolution Camp started July 5 and ran for five days, helping students with and without disabilities learn and develop more skills. The camp was made available with help from a Special Olympics grant that paid for equipment.
Patty Carosotto, an EG resident and coach for EGHS’s Unified Volleyball team, has been wanting to create a camp as part of the high school’s Unified program for a few years. After brainstorming ideas with EG’s adaptive PE teacher Lisa McKay, they learned a grant was being offered by Special Olympics for students that are making their communities welcome to people with disabilities.
“The grant was made to support young leaders in creating solutions to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities,” Carosotto said, “so the goal was for it to help the school engage people in a lifetime of inclusion.”
Carosotto and McKay turned to rising juniors Oliveia Shaughnessy and Matthew Carosotto for help. They wrote the application and the program was chosen.
“We were so excited to be chosen for the funds,” said Shaughnessy. “The grant took a while for Matt and me to write up but it was really worth it.”
From there the group advertised the camp – the Avenger Inclusion Revolution Camp – to parents and students with an aim to include everyone who was interested.
“Mrs. McKay and Mrs. Giannelli put so many hours into the organization of the camp. Everything was planned down to the minute,” said Shaughnessy. Meghan Giannelli, an EG resident, has been volunteering for Special Olympics for years.
According to participants and family members, the camp was a huge success.
“Mrs. McKay and her team are unbelievably skilled in taking a sport or activity and breaking it down into each individual step and helping kids practice those distinct steps so that way then when they have to put it all together to play a sport they can really do it,” said Nicole Bucka, a parent of a camper and a member of the East Greenwich Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). “And you know it’s also really challenging to keep pace with the kids or sometimes kids who have attention difficulties or language needs and to keep them moving from station to station and make sure everyone is engaged. Just to see Mrs. McKay and her team in action is nothing short of amazing, you just need to see it.”
The five days the camp ran were filled with various activities – volleyball, basketball, croquet, bocce, frisbee golf, and water balloon launching were all on the agenda. Activities were led by a team of eight students and supported by McKay, Carosotto and Giannelli.
“For me, basketball was the most fun,” said Shaughnessy, “but the best part was seeing how campers grew over the week with their partners.”
With its first year a hit, there is much support for the camp to run next year.
“Whether it’s run through the athletics department at the school district level or in coordination with the town Recreation Department, I would like to see this supported by more of the community to supplement Special Olympics,” said Bucka. “Wrap around Mrs. McKay’s team and give them a little bit more love.”
The growth that both campers with and without disabilities faced over the week were tremendous, according to organizers.
“I feel like this group brought so much energy and compassion,” said Carosotto, “The people who stepped up to the plate to help run this had great commitment and desire to make this happen. It was extraordinary.”
Morgan Walsh, an incoming junior at EGHS, has been writing for East Greenwich News since 2020.