For the first time, the Chicago Zoological Society has partnered with the National Inclusion Project to enable Zoo Camp staff at the Brookfield Zoo to better serve children with disabilities.
The Let’s All Play program trains camp staff members in inclusion techniques and provides scholarships for children with disabilities.
Brookfield’s Zoo Camp serves more than 1,700 children each summer and an estimated 6 percent of all campers have special needs, including physical disabilities, autism, sensory processing disorders and attention deficit disorders.
As part of the program, the zoo hired a zoo camp counselor inclusion specialist to serve as a resource to campers and staff and to provide support and advice as needed.
“We are dedicated to building and strengthening inclusion initiatives zoowide and the Let’s All Play partnership will enable our camp staff to better serve our campers with disabilities,” says Dave Becker, senior manager of learning experiences for the CZS, which manages Brookfield Zoo.
“We receive more inquiries about Zoo Camp every year as more families have become aware of the Chicago Zoological Society’s capacity to work with children with special needs. This partnership will allow all children, regardless of ability, to learn about animals and become conservation leaders.”
“The ultimate goal is to create an environment that makes it so everyone can participate, everyone can have successes and everyone can make a friend,” CZS’s Amelia Orozco says.
June’s camps are full, but a few spots remain for July and August.