RiteCare© Clinic Concludes with Scottish Rite Luncheon

A camper uses a squirt gun to move a boat.

Camper Ava Miller uses a squirt gun to move a boat in a wading pool as part of this summer's RiteCare© Clinic.

The 30 children on Radford University's campus for this month's Summer RiteCare© Clinic shared the thrill of victory and cheered each other on during a three-week session built on the theme "Teamwork Makes the Dream Work."

The goal was to embrace the spirit of the Olympic Games by teaching the importance of teamwork and the joy of celebrating others’ accomplishments, said Diane Millar, director of the annual camp for children with autism.

"This year we tackled social skills through natural play in fun, group activities to assist children with generalizing their newly acquired communication skills to home and school environments," said Millar, an associate professor in the university's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COSD). "Our days were filled with cheering, high-fives and laughter, and we are so thankful to the Scottish Rite and Radford University for the incredible generosity that allows us to create a unique environment for teaching critical communication skills."

The camp session concluded Friday, June 29, with a luncheon in honor of the Virginia Orient of the Scottish Rite and the Scottish Rite Foundation, which has partnered with Radford University since 1995 to offer the Summer RiteCare© Clinic.

At the luncheon, Radford President Penelope W. Kyle accepted a check for $33,000 on behalf of the university from the Scottish Rite, bringing the organization's total donation to the camp over the years to more than $890,000. The funds support initiatives that enhance the literacy and language skills of children with autism.

In accepting the check from James Cole, Scottish Rite Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Virginia, Kyle said, "You all have been dear, dear friends. We could not provide this service without you."

Much to the delight of the campers, Cole read a book to them, evoking laughter and questions from the youngsters.

The mission of the Summer RiteCare© Clinic is to teach children ranging in age from toddlers to teens, along with their parents, how to better cope with everyday challenges. The children take part in typical summer camp activities such as art and crafts, singing and dancing, and listening to stories told by counselors. This year's clinic included Olympic-themed games.

Parents of the campers attend sessions on how to use lessons learned at camp in everyday life at home. Families apply to participate in the program and attend for free.

Millar of COSD said, "It is an honor and a privilege to be able to serve so many children and their families again this year. We have an amazingly talented group of graduate student clinicians and volunteers whose tireless efforts are inspiring. I am so proud of their motivation and determination to help our children."

One camper was returning for a fifth year at camp, where she was a member of the camp's Olympic Team Australia. Her brother was attending for the first time.

James Cole reads to the campers.

Scottish Rite Sovereign Grand Inspector General James Cole reads to campers during the luncheon and ceremony honoring the Virginia Orient of the Scottish Rite and the Scottish Rite Foundation.

In a letter to the RiteCare© Clinic staff, her family wrote to express its appreciation that she could participate again. "It is and has always been a very rewarding experience," they wrote. "She is so very different since her first camp experience. She was an escape artist at the age of three. Now, she stays with her group and follows directions. It is truly amazing how much she has progressed. This would not be possible without this program."

The Scottish Rite Foundation also awarded fellowships to 12 COSD graduate students: Bethany Borgony, Jenna Coleman, Katie Curran, Catherine Dent, Hannah Goldstein, Megan Goodman, Devon Rice, Julia Rose, Marissa Sheridan, Julie Smith, Sara Taylor, and Jessica Wyatt.

Scottish Rite fellowship recipients are selected for having committed to advancing knowledge of childhood language disorders and having positioned themselves to work with children from Virginia who have such challenges. The endowed fellowships include the Scottish Rite Fellowship in Language Disorders, the George Everett and Matsue Yamazaki Dewese Scottish Rite Graduate Fellowship, the Matsue Yamazaki Dewese Scottish Rite Graduate Fellowship and the Arney Dalton Scottish Rite Graduate Fellowship.

A donation of $1,000 to the camp, courtesy of RU Student Support Services staff member Geoffrey Colbert and the IGA supermarket chain, will provide additional funding for the camp program. Colbert was a winner in IGA's "Hometown Health and Wellness" sweepstakes, which donates $1,000 each to the winner's two choices of charitable organizations and causes.

"I found out about the sweepstakes when I was paying my telephone bill online and noticed the advertisement. My supervisor's daughter is autistic, and I have seen her progress," Colbert said, referring to her participation in the Summer RiteCare© Clinic.

He selected the Juvenile Diabetes Association as the other gift recipient.

Jun 29, 2012
Bonnie Erickson