This summer Pittsburgh will get its first overnight camp focused on teaching life skills to young adults with disabilities.

Set for the Duquesne University campus June 16- 27 and July 7-18, Summer Life Camp for those 18-21 with disabilities will help them “be more independent in their communities … gaining the ability to take the bus or do laundry and help their parents gain the confidence that they can do these things,” says Heather Sedlacko, director of programs people with disabilities at the camp sponsor, United Way of Allegheny County.

Summer Life Camp is a pilot program in partnership with St. Anthony School Programs in Wexford, whose staff will do skills assessment when participants enter and leave camp to give them and their parents a list of both their accomplishment and the skills they still need to learn.

“For many it will be the first time they’ve slept away from their parent in a programmatic setting,” Sedlacko notes. “And it’s pretty cool to be able to do it on a college campus, in the dorms, with the full run of the college campus.”

The camp isn’t targeting any specific disability, but Sedlacko cautions that the camp may not be able to handle those with severe medical complications in its first year. But those able to fill the camp’s 20 spots will learn skills that may help them be competitively employed and live in the community.

She hopes next year the camp can accommodate those with more complex medical issues. In the meantime, she says, if this camp and this effort is successful, people without disabilities can also expect improvements in their lives – they can expect to live and work alongside those with disabilities.

Those interested in attending camp should call Mike Osiecki, St. Anthony School Programs, at 724-831-9899.

Marty Levine

Marty Levine's journalism has appeared in Time, Salon.com and throughout Pennsylvania and has won awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, The Press...