On August 8, Ausome Ottawa, an organization that provides recreational programming for children with autism, will be sending 15 children and 15 helpers to Camp B’nai Brith of Ottawa (CBB) for a day of fun and inclusion.
The Ausome kids will spend the day utilizing CBB’s facility and engaging in recreational activities with the other campers like swimming, doing arts and crafts, and joining them in the dining hall for lunch.
Ausome Ottawa’s work was recently recognized when it received this year’s Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program Grant, valued at $2,000, at the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation annual general meeting on June 8.
CBB Assistant Director Cindy Benedek said that, when Ausome Ottawa proposed the idea to her, she didn’t hesitate to say yes and is excited about the children coming to camp.
Liisa Vexler, executive director and co-founder of Ausome Ottawa, said the day will be a great opportunity for the children – who don’t usually get to participate in the camp experience – as well as for the regular CBB campers who will “have the opportunity to interact with children who aren’t the same as them.”
Benedek spoke highly about the benefits that both groups will be experiencing as well.
“We’re a camp that believes … every child deserves to experience camp. So, for us, it’s very important to extend that branch to a group of kids that wouldn’t normally be able to participate in an overnight camp experience,” Benedek said. “And, for us, [another very important aspect] is having our children participate with other children who have disabilities by allowing them the opportunity to share in the experience with them and learn and grow from that experience.”
Both Benedek and Vexler hope the day will become an annual event at CBB.
“If it’s successful, and everybody felt like it was a good thing, we’re happy to continue with it for many years to come,” said Benedek.
The day at CBB is one of many programs Ausome Ottawa runs throughout the year. The organization serves approximately 120 families, and some events – like basketball – are held in the Soloway Jewish Community Centre gym.