FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2018
Contact: Kate Hofmann, (989) 894-3813
Bay City, MI – With the help of the Leadership Bay County class of 2018, Camp Fish tales is looking forward to the addition of a new sensory room this spring.
Leadership Bay County, a program of the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, includes a nine-month curriculum designed to help participants better understand the community. The average class size is 20 people, who are also challenged to select and complete a class project.
“We were presented with a number of options for our class project, including a proposal from Camp Fish Tales to develop a sensory room specially designed for campers with autism,” said Leadership Bay County participant Kate Hofmann. “It quickly became apparent to our group that this project would have a lasting impact on our community, and we jumped at the chance to get started.”
In the proposal, Camp Fish Tales describes the discomfort and anxiety campers with autism sometimes feel when introduced to a new environment. “Though each person with autism is an individual, many have difficulty processing sensory information,” said Rachel Bartlett, Executive Director at Camp Fish Tales. “Though camp can be an overall enjoyable experience, some campers with autism have trouble processing their new sensory environment, which may make them uncomfortable and act out.”
A sensory room is a space designed with special elements to help engage the senses. Sensory rooms often include lights, colors, calming sounds, sensory play objects and aromas all within a safe environment that allows a person to explore without risk.
Camp Fish Tales looks forward to having a space to serve as therapy for those with sensory issues. The addition of a sensory room may also help the camp expand the number of individuals with autism they are able to serve.
“I am so impressed with the Leadership Bay County class, and am grateful for all they have done,” Bartlett said. “They have done their homework, and you can tell time and thought were really put into this project. We just can’t thank them enough, and the parents of our campers are so excited.”
The completion of the project is anticipated for June of 2018, which means campers will be able to use the room this summer.
“Most people do not understand the sensory issues that come with autism,” said Tonya Asbury, whose son Tristan has autism. “I would feel confident sending my son to a camp with a sensory room to help him during the times he is over-stimulated and overwhelmed. It would put my mind at ease to know sensory tools are available to help calm him.”
Bartlett is eager to see the sensory room in action, and is proud to be able to offer the space to families and campers who need it. “They feel like this is an ‘aha’ moment – that people are finally paying attention to their needs on the disability spectrum,” Bartlett said. “We are working to provide a people-first, person-centered unique camping experience, and the Leadership Bay County class is helping us make that happen.”
Leadership Bay County will host a silent auction fundraiser at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting on March 20, 2018 at the Doubletree Hotel. All proceeds from the silent auction will benefit the development of the Camp Fish Tales sensory room. Those interested in donating to the silent auction can contact Jena Lowell at Jena.Lowell@hilton.com or 989-460-1681.
Current sponsors of the project include Consumers Energy, McLaren Bay Region, Northwoods Wholesale Outlet, Bob & Joyce Hetzler, Catholic Federal Credit Union, Chemical Bank, Garber Chevrolet Linwood, Independent Bank, Labadie Buick GMC, Northern Concrete Pipe, Inc. and Serenus Johnson Construction.
The Leadership Bay County Class of 2018 includes Stephen Bigelow, Superintendent of Bay City Public Schools; Michael Ciaciuch, Founder and Principal of Act Two Financial Advisors; AmyLou Gage Douglas, Corporate Data and Health Information Technology Manager for CMU Health; Sarah Dufresne, Vice President of Business & Finance at Delta College; Alyssa Gulvas, Insurance Advisor and Owner of Gulvas Agency – Farm Bureau Insurance; Kate Hofmann, Marketing Communications Specialist at McLaren Bay Region; Melissa Jo Horn, Admission Advisor for the Great Lakes Bay Region and Online Programs for Northwood University; Jessica Jacobs, Account Manager for Valley United Insurance Agency; Sean Kelly, Performance Engineer at Consumers Energy; Jena Lowell, Catering Sales Manager for the DoubleTree by Hilton Bay City-Riverfront; Molly Neymeiyer, Business Account Manager at Consumers Energy; Alan Nicholls, Regional Manager for PM Environmental, Inc.; Mike O’Hearn, Assistant Athletic Director, Facilities and Events at Saginaw Valley State University; Melissa Pashak, Marketing Specialist at Catholic Federal Credit Union; Amber Phillips, Assistant Vice President Bank Manager for Independent Bank; Emily Radlinski, Collections Manager for the Bay County Historical Society; Josh Rappuhn, Senior Accountant at Weinlander Fitzhugh; Chris Sheridan, Senior Accountant at Yeo & Yeo, CPAs & Business Consultants and Melissa Vrable, Principal of Bangor Central Elementary.