Ausome Camp was an awesome experience for Algonquin students who volunteered to help kids with autism have fun through sports during the March Break.
Ausome Ottawa is a registered charity that enriches the lives of kids living with autism and their families through sport and recreation. The charity runs as camps during summer and long weekends which allow volunteers to get involved through the website.
The camp took a place at the RA Center in Ottawa over the March break.
Every child had his or her own partner who kept them company through all the activities, and some kids had two with them; one Algonquin student and the other from the Ausome team. All of the Ausome programs run based on volunteers from universities and colleges such as Algonquin.
Some students can commit for a full day, others can for half a day. Still, it is helpful to the camp and the kids, said the camp director Alix Milk.
Kids will make a bond with volunteers after spending a full day with them, and most volunteers will come back another day after their first experience.
“Algonquin students just jumped in there which is amazing and that’s what we look for in volunteers,” Alix Milk said.
One of the five volunteers was Allyson Padgett, a baking and pastry art student. She didn’t know that she would be helping kids with autism until she got to the camp. “Knowing I will be helping kids with autism did not change my wanting to be here at all or the experience itself,” Padgett said.
The second volunteer was Justyne Jones. It was was her first experience helping kids with autism. Jones was tired at the end of the day but she still would still do the same experience one more time.
“I am impressed, amazed and inspired by these kids. It was a lot of fun,” Jones said.
Another volunteer was Mansi Kamal, a business administration student who came from India to Canada two months ago. The student engagement, information and outreach coordinator Laura McLellan had a busy day at Ausome camp, but she had fun. She thought the volunteer group did awesome work at the camp. “This was out of most people’s comfort zone. I think a lot of students aren’t parents and they don’t have experience working with kids with autism, but they did amazingly well. They were so engaging and so caring with the children,” said McLellan.
The day ended with a very warm goodbyes from kids to volunteers and different gifts from volunteers to the kids. A big thank you from the parents and then all volunteers left the RA Center after receiving a very big thank you from Alix Milk.
The schedule started at 9:45 a.m. and the first activity was basketball, followed by a snack, dance, yoga, lunch, and a craft. Outside activities included soccer, free play, with the day wrapping up at 4 p.m.