Lancaster center provides people with disabilities camping memories

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LANCASTER, Pa. -- The sights, the sounds and the delicious smells of camping filled the Disability Empowerment Center (DEC) Wednesday in Lancaster.

The center, which serves Lancaster and Lebanon Counties, gives people with disabilities the chance to interact and teaches them communication skills.

"It's a goal for people with disabilities to have social interaction and they feel more comfortable around other people with disabilities," Melissa Hawkins, DEC executive director said.

On Wednesday, campers played games, enjoyed eating hot dogs and sang around the campfire to build skills and interact with one another.

The camp gives people a chance to experience activities they normally would not have been able to enjoy. "Sometimes people say I want to go skydiving, but I don't know how, or camping, but I'm afraid, so we said okay, we'll bring it to you," Hawkins said.

Amber Neely, 20, participated in the camping activities. "When I found out that a lot of people had disabilities, it gave me a boost of confidence.  I'm like, oh, I'm not the only person now, I'm Amber, I'm happy all the time."

DEC is a non-profit 501 (c)(3), is federally funded and free to attend. If interested in DEC and their activities, visit their website.