Melissa’s Sunshine Camp is a non-profit organization (NPO) that focuses on programming for people with physical and mental disabilities or who are on the autism spectrum. Earlier this year, the Camp was awarded a grant by the Ministry of Culture and Communications, which it plans to use in the coming year for its innovative new Art’Porte Moi project.
The NPO has been organizing events and activities since 1993. Services are varied and include daily activities from Monday to Friday for people aged 21 and up, along with various evening activities, camps, and holiday parties.
According to the website, daily programming includes “activities adapted to maintain and develop [participants’] experiences under the supervision of a technician in specialized education and a social animator.” The aim is to enrich and strengthen four skills: “fine and global motricity, autonomy, socialization, and creativity.”
Sonia Viau, a specialized educator with the camp for the past eight years, has overseen the application and plans for this new arts grant. She is excited to announce that “The maximum amount we could have received was $20,000, and I’m thrilled that we were able to receive the maximum.”
Art and inclusion
The grant is awarded to both promote culture and focus on “the inclusion and social integration of marginalized people who are at risk of being excluded in society.” To use the grant, the Camp is recruiting help from Line Desrochers, an artist who will be helping to run a variety of weekly workshops. The intention is to partner with ten different organizations in the area and customize a door at each one of those partner’s businesses in order to integrate Camp clients’ work into the community.
Viau explains that the motive behind the Art’Porte Moi project is that “It’ll show how good we are, and the potential that the clients have.”
The emphasis on arts and culture for the clientele of Melissa’s Sunshine Camp is extremely important to Viau, as she explains that the clients still face a high amount of prejudice. She feels that this grant could help them feel better about their places in the community as they show what they can do.
“I think there’s often an exclusion of our clients. If we didn’t do this, they might continue to feel excluded.” Viau also thought of applying for this grant because “It works a lot with communication, and with the question of ‘self’.”
Art is a fundamental element of the daily services offered at the Camp, and Viau and her clients have had exhibits at the Little Green Library and the Salle Alfred Langevin in Huntingdon. “It’s something that’s really important to us and something that’s also important to do in the community. The clients are super proud.” Another exhibit is planned at the Salle Alfred Langevin in December.
Outreach to youth
Viau is also hoping to expand the organization’s outreach, particularly to adolescent people with disabilities and on the autism spectrum. She is hoping to speak to people at both Ecole Arthur-Pigeon and Chateauguay Valley Regional High School to assess the needs of the younger community, whether they might enjoy weekly evening or weekend events, or a once-per-month engagement. She hopes to potentially engage adolescents over the phone or by email to gauge their priorities. “I’d love to know what their needs are,” she says.
Some of the partners that Melissa’s Sunshine Camp is working with include Une Affaire de Famille, The Little Green Library, the Municipality of Franklin and Hinchinbrooke, La Microferme Retour au Sources, and Gosselin Courtiers Insurance.
This is the first time the NPO has applied for a Ministry of Culture and Communications grant.