Pomona, CA…Roxanne Ojeda wanted to die.
After an infection claimed her leg following common knee surgery, the prospect of life in a wheelchair was depressing, to say the least. Roxanne’s active life—filled with daily runs on the beach and competitive softball—had disappeared before her eyes, and anger and despair replaced her once happy attitude. Then some friends encouraged her to attend Casa Colina’s Land Meets Sea Sports Camp, and her outlook and ability improved. “I went and it made me feel alive again. It totally made me feel like I was worth something again . . . like life was worth living.”
Ojeda, 47, is just one of many people with disabilities who have learned just how capable they are and how exciting an active life can be through Casa Colina’s Land Meets Sea Sports Camp. Presented by Casa Colina’s Outdoor Adventures program, the 14th annual Land Meets Sea Sports Camp will take place August 5-8, 2008 at Long Beach Marine Stadium and other sites in Long Beach.
As Ojeda found out just a few years ago, Land Meets Sea Sports Camp is a unique and inspiring opportunity for persons with disabilities ages 4 and older that incorporates water, land, recreation and competitive sports. More than 130 people with varying disabilities will have the chance to experience sports including water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, outrigger canoeing, sailing, hot air ballooning, deep sea fishing and an introduction to SCUBA in addition to over-the-line softball, quad rugby, martial arts, wheelchair basketball, hockey, tennis, yoga, strength training and hand-cycling. Casa Colina’s staff of Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialists and Wilderness First Responders, volunteers, coaches and athletes encourages and guides campers as they experience different sports first hand. In addition, the camp will feature a special Kids Kamp (held on Wednesday, August 6 from 9 am to 4 pm only) for children ages four through 18. This includes an all-day schedule ranging from crafts to sandcastle building with sailing in the afternoon. This portion of the camp provides an opportunity for younger participants to gradually build up to participating in the overall camp in later years.
One of the most unique aspects of the camp is the variety of people who attend. Like Ojeda, many are newly disabled, while others have lived with a disability since birth. Last year the camp had participants ranging in age from young children to mature adults, as well as with a wide range of abilities. Beginners as well as those with experience are made to feel welcome and capable as they try challenging sports and recreational activities.
The fee for the camp is $250 for all 4 days and includes participation in all events, lunches, goodie bag, and a t-shirt. Water skiing, jet skiing and kayaking begin at 8 am while all other activities start at 9 am. Many camp participants stay at nearby motels over the course of the four-day event. The cost for Kids Kamp is $100 for the day and includes camp activities, t-shirt, snack and lunch for child and provider/parent.
Now a volunteer with the camp, Ojeda’s positive, enthusiastic view of life is vastly different to the deep depression that clouded her life following her injury. “Now, I want to tell everyone, ‘Come on, you can do this! Let’s get up, get out, and get living.’ I want to do it all. If patients get the right motivation and encouragement, they’re capable of anything. I’ve done it.”
Camp sponsors include AMed Healthcare, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Long Beach Park-Recreation & Marine, Kawasaki Motor Corp. Inc., Long Beach International Sea Festival, Colours, Lokahi Outrigger Canoe Club, UCLA Recreation and the United States Sailing Center.
The Outdoor Adventures program is a part of Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, a non-profit, community governed organization dedicated to inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services. Since 1936, when its main function was serving children with polio in Southern California, Casa Colina has grown into a network providing inpatient and outpatient medical rehabilitation, community re-entry, residential, return-to-work and community service programs for children and adults from all over the world who can benefit from rehabilitation.
For more information, call Casa Colina’s Outdoor Adventures office at 909/596-7733, Ext 2200.
Media representatives and photographers are welcome. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 909/596-7733, Ext. 2227 or 800/926-5462, Extension 2227 to arrange for interviews and photography during the event.