Association of Horizon is an organization that seeks to empower and enrich the lives of adults with physical disabilities through lifelong social and emotional bonds and recreation.
Swimming in a pool on a hot day, going on a horseback riding excursion, slowing down to enjoy the presence of peers and creating new friendships. For most adults and children in America, these are just some of the many activities individuals enjoy in the summer time. Yet, for the 21 million adults (ages 18-64) with disabilities, many of these seemingly typical activities, are simply childhood memories—activities that were once possible through the support of a number of organizations aimed at providing children with disabilities the same type of summertime activities as their peers. While activities that promote social, emotional, and physical health are critical for everyone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 57% of adults (18-64 years old) with physical disabilities do not receive any form of aerobic activity.
This is particularly problematic as adults with disabilities are 3 times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities. Coupled with the feelings of isolation and the social and emotional challenges many adults with disabilities face, summertime leaves many adults with disabilities feeling isolated and alone.
In 1991, a group of individuals realized the lack of recreational and social/emotional opportunities for adults with disabilities and sought to meet this need. Thus Association of Horizon was born. Recognizing that adults with disabilities are often burdened with numerous expenses for medical treatment, medications, therapies, and equipment, the volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the year to raise funds to ensure that every camper is able to attend free of charge. One year later, Horizon launched its very first camp with 65 campers. During the seven-day camp, adults with disabilities came together to safely participate in physical and recreational activities which were adapted to meet each camper’s individual needs. With a medical team and a trained volunteer for each participant, the weeklong camp meant that primary caregivers were able to rest and recharge, knowing that the adult they care for throughout the year was well cared for at summer camp. Additionally, camp gave adults with disabilities the rare opportunity to come together to socialize and forge meaningful friendships that have lasted a lifetime.
The Bottom Line
Today, more than 25 years since its first camp, Horizon continues to improve the quality of life for adults with disabilities through the successful program model it has developed and refined which addresses the physical, social, and emotional needs of adults with disabilities.
The seven-day summer camp takes place at an Easter Seals camp site that is specifically designed and equipped for individuals with disabilities. Year after year, the camp consistently operates at maximum capacity, serving over 100 adults with disabilities with many other individuals on a waiting list.
In addition to the summer camp, the support of community partnerships and generous donors, has made it possible for the organization to expand its scope of services by offering a fall weekend retreat and other special events and activities throughout the year.
Now swimming in pool, riding a horse, or enjoying the camaraderie of peers is no longer a distant childhood pastime. For adults with physical disabilities, the quintessential summertime activities are the highlight of the year, and the benefits of the social and emotional bonds are enjoyed throughout the entire year.