Day On The Farm For Those With Disabilities

TRENT, S.D.-There’s a different kind of camp going on in eastern South Dakota. It’s giving everyone the chance to experience a day on the farm, including those with disabilities. 

Wednesdays are the best part of summer for folks at Dakotabilities. Each week they spend their time at the Trent River Day Camp.

“It’s an opportunity. No one sees the disability out here, only the abilities,” said Nathan Stallinga, Director of Development for Dakotabilities.

The camp makes activities like farming wheelchair accessible. Ramps allow campers to spend the day riding on adaptive wagons pulled by antique tractors. They also get to feed corn to cattle.

“They’ve just done so much to make everything accessible and I mean it takes a lot of work to make everything accessible and they’ve done it,” said Mary Vickery, a volunteer with Dakotabilities.

Campers can even try driving a tractor. The seat lowers to the ground, so someone can get out of the wheelchair and into the tractor seat. Then it raises up. 

For those who grew up on a farm these are  normal activities, but for clients at Dakotabilities this is a special treat. 

“Gives a lot of people the opportunity to do things like just feeding the cows and being out in nature that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” said Lauren Christiansen, Camp Founder.

 Christiansen founded the camp over 18 years ago. 

“Came up for sale and we just wanted to put something together for our own hunting and recreational purposes, but it’s a lot more fun to share with other people,” said Christiansen.

 It makes a big impact on the campers like Ian Madsen

“It’s fun and people with special needs are treated like family,” said Madsen. 

He feels accepted on the farm.

“Making everyone feel like they have a purpose,” said Madsen. 

The camp allows him to focus on his abilities rather than disabilities. 

The camp has grown to the point where it can host over 100 people on any given day. The founder credits that to all the volunteers, many of whom are from Trent and Dell Rapids.

 

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