UGA, Georgia Tech partner to create camp for children with disabilites

A Saturday late in November consists of tense competition between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and the Georgia Institute of Technology Yellow Jackets in either Sanford or Bobby Dodd Stadium, but when it comes to a good cause, UGA and Georgia Tech have no problem putting rivalry aside.

UGA’s College of Environment and Design and Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture recently partnered with Extra Special People, Inc. to begin the creation of an overnight camp, Camp Hooray, for children with developmental disabilities.

“It was the name that gave everyone an instant feeling … a little smile of the heart,” Laura Whitaker, executive director of the company, said in a post on ESP’s website.

The two universities had just signed an agreement entitled the ‘Georgia Design Collaborative’, an agreement to indicate their collaboration on future projects, when ESP approached them about participating in the design of Camp Hooray.

UGA students enrolled in the Landscape Architecture Senior Design Studio will begin this semester working with senior year Georgia Tech students enrolled in a similar architecture studio.

The students will participate in a three day intensive workshop called a ‘design charrette,’ from Jan. 29 to 31 to get to know each other, the camp site and the ESP families who will benefit from this custom-designed retreat.

The design studio at UGA plans to explore more than the structural design of the camp, but also behavioral theory, the study of the measurable aspects of human behavior, and its impact on the design of the camp.

Jennifer Lewis, the public service programs coordinator for UGA’s College of Environment and Design, said this class will help students understand how they can use design to afford people good experiences, especially when not everyone experiences the world in the same way.

Students use their creative capabilities to invent ways to accommodate persons of all ability levels, so the children ESP serves can participate in activities like archery, swimming, canoeing, zip-lining, sports and even something as simple as sleeping on the top bunk.

Lewis said the students “have been given the opportunity to make a significant, lasting change in someone’s life,” and she hopes the College of Environment and Design’s “relationship with ESP paves the way for another college or school to think about how their expertise could contribute to ESP’s mission.”

To read the rest of this article, published in Red and Black, please click here.