NORTH HAVEN — A dozen teens participating in an overnight camp for young people with limb loss and their families tried something new Wednesday: driving.
CorRales Dupree, 21, traveled from Richmond, Virginia to participate in Camp No Limits at Quinnipiac University.
He got behind the wheel of a driving simulator, steering and engaging the gas and brake with his hands with the road before him on three screens. Later, he tested his vision like he was at the DMV.
Dupree has attended the camp the past thee years. Quinnipiac has hosted the camp since 2015.
“Coming to camp helped to get me a scholarship to play adaptive basketball for college,” he said. He is a junior at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
He first tried adaptive sports at camp. Sledding lead to basketball, he said.
Now, as an older camper, he works with younger participants, who smile through all the activities, he said.
“Their energy really runs off and inspires me,” he said.
Camper Bella Tucker, 16 years old and a quadruple amputee, tried a driving simulator from her wheelchair.
A high school senior, she traveled from Londonderry, New Hampshire.
“I was excited to come here for the driving stuff,” Tucker said.
The camp runs Wednesday through Sunday on Quinnipiac’s York Hill Campus in Hamden, hosted by the university’s Center for Interprofessional Healthcare, and aims to optimize the functional independence of children and adolescents living with limb loss.
The teen program, called Prepping for Our Future, is a new aspect to the camp. The day-long event was held at the Ergonomics and Assistive Technology Lab in the School of Medicine on the North Haven campus.
A grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation covered most of the campers’ tuition, which was donated specifically for the Quinnipiac camp, said camp founder Mary Leighton, an occupational therapist from Maine.
Tuition runs $500 per camper. This year, 25 families participated at Quinnipiac.
Leighton founded Camp No Limits in 2004, which began with four children. Today, there are nine locations nationwide, serving hundreds of families. Camp No Limits is offered in Connecticut, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Missouri and Texas.
Students helping peers
Quinnipiac student Samantha Clift, a senior occupational therapy major, helped design the teen program. She first volunteered at Camp No Limits two summers ago.
“I lost my arm when I was 5 in a playground accident, so I wanted to be involved with the camp,” said Clift, 20. “It was a really good experience for me. It was very powerful to see kids hanging out with other people like them.”
Clift said she is excited to meet with this year’s teens and parents. She had her adapted car on display Wednesday.
Clift said during her time at Quinnipiac, she relied on the Office for Student Accessibility to help make reasonable accomodations for her, though most of her challenges were what any college student experiences: balancing school and social life, cooking and doing laundry for herself.
“Transitioning to college is hard for anyone,” she said. “When you have something that poses another difficulty like limb loss, it can be even harder.”
Still, she said college is an opportunity for young people with limb loss to become more independent.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” she said.