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Kluge Rehabilitation Center Hosts Therapy Camp for First Time - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Kluge Rehabilitation Center Hosts Therapy Camp for First Time

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Many children with special needs don't get the opportunity to share in many popular summer pastimes.  Now, a summer camp at the Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center is working to change that.

Thursday, five children with special needs wrapped up two weeks of therapy summer camp. For these campers and their families, a run-of-the-mill summer camp means so much more.

Wesley Helmbrecht is in his element at the camp.

"Something in him knows when he's with other kids with special needs. And so he just gets happy and he's a very social kid - if you saw the puppet show at the beginning, he was just in heaven," said Jocelynn Helmbrecht, Wesley's mother.

The celebration topped off two weeks of strengthening yoga, motor skill building crafts, and sensory stimulating swimming at the Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center's therapy summer day camp.

Helmbrecht says she's been looking for a summer camp for Wesley for nine years.

"It's a relief for everyone. It's a relief for him to have a routine, it's a relief for me know that he will come home and be calm and all is right in his world when he has that set routine," said Helmbrecht.

The camp is tailored to each camper. Wesley's volunteer, Joel Reynolds, says he conquered the goals they set for him, like feeding himself.

"It's just really cool to see him go from not really being able to listen and do those things to being able to do them completely for himself," said Reynolds.

Helmbrecht says Wesley's sense of accomplishment and the bonds he has created with volunteers and fellow campers here are priceless.

"As a mother, so much of my happiness and joy comes from seeing my kids happy and, again, a lot of times people forget about kids with special needs, so to come here and to have him feel proud of himself and to have him be accepted is just an incredible experience," said Helmbrecht.

This is the first time Kluge has held this camp. Organizers say they hope to offer it again next year.

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