Sam Camp benefits local special needs students

SHSU CommunicationsSam Houston State University students work with local special needs students at Sam Camp. This class meets every Thursday throughout the semester at the SHSU Recreational Sports Center.

Students at Sam Houston State University are taking a unique approach to help local special needs children. 

The Physical Education - Teacher Education program through the SHSU Department of Kinesiology certifies and prepares students to be professionally competent, culturally sensitive and reflective physical education teachers in P-12 schools, while also providing a space for children to exercise and socialize at the Sam Camp.

The Sam Camp, which allows special needs children to socialize with others in a fun, physically active way, helps the children to learn different sports and make new friends. The class, which is facilitated by Min Kim, assistant professor of Kinesiology, aims to address the shortage of programs available to the Huntsville special needs community.

“The main issue is the lack of physical activity due to lack of resources, lack of facilities and lack of programs,” Kim said. “We are trying to provide some opportunities for them to participate in these types of programs where they can be physically active and they can learn something new each class.”

Jessica Gill is the mother of one of the children who attends each week. Gill says having this local program helps with her son Angel’s mood every time they come to campus.

“That is the thing with special needs, there is not a whole lot in Huntsville, everything is closer towards Houston. So, it is nice to have something right here in town that he can go to,” Gill said. “Angel is nonverbal, so he hasn’t talked yet. But, when we drive up to SHSU you can see he is all lit up and he is ready to go to the gym.”

Nationally, there is a shortage of physical education teachers. This program intends to spread awareness of the importance of physical education for all children and show the rewarding career of physical education teaching, especially with special needs children.

“Coming here and finding out about this program, it makes me want it to spread to other areas,” said Laura Casper, PETE program member and junior at SHSU. “Maybe I can bring it somewhere else later in my career. It just gives me that drive and I can definitely see myself going into this field later in life.”