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A camp without limits

John Clanton Modified: April 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm •  Published: July 29, 2011
Shaylin Wells, age 12, of Jenks, Okla., gets rolled around in a padded tube during a summer class camp at Mat Trotters Gymnastics in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Oklahomans Without Limits (OWL) is a summer camp for kids who are blind or visually impaired. The camp pairs each visually impaired child with a sighted buddy for the week long camp. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Shaylin Wells, age 12, of Jenks, Okla., gets rolled around in a padded tube during a summer class camp at Mat Trotters Gymnastics in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Oklahomans Without Limits (OWL) is a summer camp for kids who are blind or visually impaired. The camp pairs each visually impaired child with a sighted buddy for the week long camp. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman

I take my daughter to gymnastics class every week. As soon as she walks in and sees the equipment and the coaches, she can’t wait to get her shoes off and get into the gym. At first, it was a very different experience for a group of children who visited Mat Trotters Gymnastics in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. The kids, who are blind or visually impaired, visited the gym as part of the Oklahomans Without Limits summer camp. Some of the kids had never been to an overnight camp or a gymnastics gym before and couldn’t see what awaited them.

They walked gingerly on the soft, carpeted floors and felt of the balance beams and the padded obstacles. Before long, and with help from their sighted “buddies,” the campers were accustomed to their surroundings and having fun. They rode zip lines, jumped into foam pits and walked on the balance beams. But the most heartwarming moments happened when the campers were able to “fly” while strapped into a harness and hoisted into the air. That’s when I saw some familiar expressions of joy.

You can read the story by clicking here, or you can see more images from the Oklahomans Without Limits summer camp by clicking here.

Kane Burton, age 16, of Oklahoma City, who is visually impaired, "flies" in a harness at Mat Trotters Gymnastics in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Oklahomans Without Limits (OWL) is a summer camp for kids who are blind or visually impaired. The camp pairs each visually impaired child with a sighted buddy for the week long camp. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Kane Burton, age 16, of Oklahoma City, who is visually impaired, "flies" in a harness at Mat Trotters Gymnastics in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. Oklahomans Without Limits (OWL) is a summer camp for kids who are blind or visually impaired. The camp pairs each visually impaired child with a sighted buddy for the week long camp. Photo by John Clanton, The Oklahoman

-John Clanton