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May 1, 2014

Students Partner with Lions Club and CHKD as Volunteers at Camp for Children with Diabetes

By Brendan O'Hallarn

A daylong event for families with children suffering from diabetes spontaneously became a weekend of volunteer spirit by Old Dominion Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies (PRTS) students.

Through an annual partnership with the Lions Club and Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, ODU students volunteer for a daylong "Cabin Challenges" event at Triple R Ranch in Chesapeake. This is the seventh year ODU has worked with the program, which has been running for more than 20 years. This year 120 campers and their families participated. Every one of ODU's 32 PRTS majors took part in the volunteer exercise on Friday, April 25, despite it not being a mandatory service project.

The volunteer spirit of ODU students and faculty continued to be on display over the weekend as eight members of the university delegation also spent Saturday and Sunday at Triple R Ranch with the campers and their families (see photo below). They helped facilitate the weekend retreat, which teaches diabetes self-care management and provides an opportunity for children suffering from type 1 diabetes to share their experiences with each other.

PRTS faculty members Eddie Hill, assistant professor, and Betsy Kennedy, senior lecturer, coordinated the event, along with doctoral students Jenny Goff and Ryan Gagnon.

Through structured recreation activities and support groups, the camp teaches self-management strategies that could decrease complications and increase quality of life.

"This is a great opportunity for students to gain experience working with children with diabetes, as it is one of the fastest-growing and most psychologically and behaviorally demanding chronic illnesses facing adolescents," Kennedy said.

PRTS student Marlie De-Clerck said the experience was incredibly worthwhile.

"It was wonderful seeing the children enjoy the activities 'just like every other kid' and learning about how my cabin girls have to deal with life in a different way. I learned how diabetes has changed their life and how they are adjusting to the difference, in positive and negative ways," De-Clerck said.

ODU's Division of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services is hoping to incorporate service learning into curricula campus-wide by providing support and resources for faculty and raising awareness and recognition of service learning among current and prospective students.

morenews4-lg01ODU volunteers who worked over the weekend at the camp are (l-r): Eddie Hill, assistant professor of human movement sciences, and students Ryan Johnston, Kevin Todd, Ryan Gagnon, Rebecca Lackey, Megan Benson, Marlie De-Clerck, Kerry Spellman and Mahely Castro.