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The show must go on: Roanoke camp for kids with special needs will happen in person, online

Kaleidoscope Camp doesn’t turn anyone away

ROANOKE, Va. – Summer camps are a staple for kids, and while the pandemic has changed things this year, one local camp is making sure its campers still have the chance to shine.

Every year, the Roanoke Children’s Theatre puts on a weeklong camp for kids with special needs.

This year, COVID-19 isn’t stopping them. In fact, it’s giving parents and campers more options to participate.

Instead of filling the stage at Kaleidoscope Camp, campers will be ready to sing and perform from their living rooms.

Kari Sullivan is the director of Kaleidoscope Camp. She started the camp for kids with special needs six years ago after recognizing the need herself.

“Always teaching theatre arts and teaching theatre camps, I noticed a lack of children with exceptional needs. I got phone calls from people who said they were turned away,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan didn’t want the pandemic stop the show from going on.

“As soon as the schools were canceled, I contacted my friends at Roanoke Children’s Theatre and I said, ‘Kaleidoscope will still go on,‘” Sullivan said.

Kaleidoscope Camp doesn’t turn anyone away. In fact, this year there’s no limit to the number of people who can participate since it’s being offered in person and online.

“These children cannot be left out. The ones with suppressed immune systems, the ones whose parents are very concerned about them being exposed to other children, but still needing that interaction,” Sullivan said.

Letitia Hawkins-Beatty’s son, Titus, has participated in the camp since the first year of Kaleidoscope.

“Kaleidoscope is kind of an outlet for him that allows him to kind of express his creative energy, and we really look forward to that,” Hawkins-Beatty said. “Every year we just get to see how he’s grown developmentally...He gets to kind of have a moment in the spotlight in a very different way than typical for him.”

COVID-19 won’t stop this camp, and instead, this pandemic is giving more people the opportunity to take the stage virtually.

“No matter what, our Kaleidoscope stars will be given the chance to shine at Roanoke Children’s Theatre,” Sullivan said.

If you would like more information on Kaleidoscope Camp, click here.


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