'They see the talents they have.' Visually impaired kids at Camp Helen Keller perform at Tilles Center
A special summer camp on Long Island marked its final day of the season with a show performed by visually impaired children.
The kids of Camp Helen Keller took center stage at the Tilles Center in Old Brookville Friday.
The camp has inspired children who are visually impaired and blind to focus on their abilities for over 65 years. Campers participate in traditional activities like swimming, arts and crafts and music classes on the campus of Long Island University.
Its main goal is to help campers improve their self-esteem and building long-lasting friendships.
"A smile on their face, some new friendships among their peers and greater confidence to be who they are, they see the talents they have," says Helen Keller Services CEO Sue Ruzenski.
Jennifer Gallagher, whose two daughters have attended the camp for several years, says the experience has given her children a sense of community.
"For each of my children, they're the only one in their school who are visually impaired," Gallagher says. "Here, they're just like everybody. They participated with everybody; they have all the same experiences."
Participants attend free of charges because of donations and state grants.
The students who attend say the experience is great to ward off their insecurities.
"Mostly, I thank the camp for helping me be confident and for making me feel like, I guess, less scared about my struggles," says Annie Gallagher, of Freeport.
A total of 35 children from Nassau County, Suffolk County and Queens attended the camp this summer.