Organization Offers Aid to Students Once Part of Special Education

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MCALLEN – A place is available in McAllen that gives special needs children somewhere to go once they “age out” of school.

State laws said once they reach 21, they must graduate. C.A.M.P. University opened their doors to help those graduates.

Can Achieve Maximum Potential, or C.A.M.P. University, is a dedicated place for young adults with special needs.

“Every year, people like me, graduate from high school. They need a place to keep growing and stay connected,” Pedro, a student at the university, said.

Since 2007, C.A.M.P. has provided that connection, a place where those who need extra assistance can go and have support.

“C.A.M.P. University is an opportunity for children who have special needs to feel like human beings, to feel that they are loved. They can intermingle with each other. To be allowed to be out there and be teenagers, to be part of the community,” Raul Trevino said.

Until this year, C.A.M.P. University has been a Monday, Wednesday and Friday program focused on life and social skills. They do art, science, chapel, field trips, talent shows and more.

“Three times a week she – nobody has to wake her up – she is up on her own, ready to go. When we pack a lunch and she looks forward to having a good day with the kids and adults who are there,” Gracie Olivarez said.

This year, a Tuesday and Thursday program has been added focusing on job skills.

“We started a Tuesday-Thursday program in April. It’s focused on job skills to hopefully, maybe, have a job someday. They worked on resumes, they worked don interview skills. We made a product, a protein pancake that we’re planning on selling,” C.A.M.P. University Executive Director Pam Voss said.

“C.A.M.P. University gives them the opportunity to further their education to be able to become more independent, to go out into the community, to live a life that any citizen would want to live,” Rosa Escobedo said.

C.A.M.P. University meets at the Harvey Drive Church of Christ in McAllen. They offer many ways to get involved.

“It’s a beautiful place. It’s a happy place. We have fun here. It’s a joy to work at C.A.M.P. University. Gives us a call, come see us,” Voss encouraged.

“With your help, we can all achieve our maximum potential,” Pedro said. 

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