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Everyone is Included and Valued

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Rachael Sandri, Site Coordinator for the Sjogren Center, loves serving people with special needs through the J1:9 Program. Named for Joshua 1:9, this program’s theme is “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“What I love about campers with special needs is not so different from what I love about other campers—their excitement, the diversity of perspective they bring to the group, the way they support one another, and moments when they stretch out of their comfort zone.” In Summer 2018, J1:9 campers had their first opportunity to participate in high ropes activities. Campers were introduced to the idea of challenge by choice—venturing beyond what feels comfortable on their own terms.

“I loved watching the campers support one another, whether or not they decided to be lifted in the Levitation Chair,” Rachael shared. “One quiet and reserved camper had a blast with it. She swung, smiled, and didn’t want to come down. She led by example. Seeing her challenge herself inspired campers who were unsure if they could do it. This camper demonstrated that courage is contagious.”

One of Rachael’s favorite aspects of the J1:9 Program is the community that is formed and continues to grow. “Many individuals have been coming to camp far longer than I have, and they bring stories with them of long past summers. Most come the same week or two each year, reuniting over sno cones to deepen their friendships and to see what’s new.” This environment of love and support is made possible by generous donors who believe in the power of inclusion.

This story is featured in our 2018 Gratitude Report. Click here to read the full report.

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