NOVEMBER 17, 2004


OKC Community College OTA students host camp for foundation

Teah Ausmus from Oklahoma City Community College helps August Willms with his necklace that he made at camp. Ausmus was one of 36 students who volunteered to help at a camp for the Oklahoma Foundation for the Disabled.

August Willms’ happiness means so much to his sister Marlene Hildebrand. Willms, 62, is mentally challenged and requires his sister’s constant care. However, Hildebrand, 64, doesn’t have quite the energy she once did, and as Willms’ needs increase, her ability to help decreases.

Thoughts of the volunteers who help her and her brother throughout the year brings tears to her eyes. And she’s most grateful for the 30 plus students from Oklahoma City Community College who recently planned a camp for her brother and his friends in Stroud, Okla.

“These people are the most wonderful gift from God,” said Hildebrand.

The camp, hosted by a group of Occupational Therapy Assistant students from Oklahoma City Community College, is for the Oklahoma Foundation for the Disabled, a recreational program for the mentally and physically challenged in the Oklahoma City Metro Area.

“He looks forward to this so much,” said Hildebrand. “He’s just gloriously happy to be here.”

Campers range in age from their twenties to their sixties. Many of the participants live with their parents or in a group home, and some have never attended camp before, but they all have one thing in common – for three days they traveled around the world without ever leaving Oklahoma.

The Occupational Therapy Association, a student organization at the College, held its fourth annual camp for the Foundation in mid October. The camp’s theme was “A Trip Around The World.” Each day brought a new theme, based upon a different part of the world. Friday’s theme welcomed the campers to the South Seas. Saturday the group traveled to Europe. And Sunday they went to Mexico and Central America.

Over 30 college students volunteered for the camp and five OTA graduates returned to help this year. Tom Kraft, professor and director of the occupational therapy assistant program, said the camp really shows the OTA students what their profession is all about.

“Students quickly learn that occupational therapy is people working with people,” said Kraft. “I think not only do the foundation participants enjoy the weekend, but so do our volunteers.”
With over 35 volunteers and 25 campers, Kraft said the students are able to give one-on-one attention to each of the participants.

Kraft said out of everything that the students do throughout the year, the camp is the most memorable time. Although students plan the event as a class project in the OTA program, helping at the actual event is strictly on a volunteer basis.

"There are a lot of emotions involved in this weekend because all of the campers are so appreciative of what we do and they become our friends,” said Kraft. “The students agree it’s the best part of the year.”

Contact: Paula Gower, director of public relations and marketing, 1-405-682-7590