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Camp Yes And for teens on the autism spectrum expanding to second week in Indianapolis

Apr. 27, 2016

Last summer, the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning and the Indiana Resource Center for Autism at IU’s Indiana Institute on Disability and Community founded Camp Yes And -- a summer improv camp for teens on the autism spectrum and teachers.

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Camp Yes And is a summer improv camp for teens on the autism spectrum and teachers. | IMAGE COURTESY OF INDIANA UNIVERSITY

In 2016, the camp will double its impact, offering one week of camp in Bloomington, July 11 to 15, and one week in Indianapolis, July 18 to 22. The institute has launched a peer-to-peer funding campaign to support the camp’s free tuition for all participants.

At Camp Yes And, teens and teachers learn improv as a way to develop social communication skills and transform teaching and learning. The camp is designed to support verbal teens, ages 13 to 18, on the autism spectrum, or those with a similar diagnosis, who would benefit from support building social communication skills.

The camp also is a free professional learning opportunity for teachers -- including para-educators, mentors, supervisors, etc. -- of any discipline working in K-12 public or private schools, colleges and universities, or community-based settings such as arts or social services organizations.

Camp organizers say that improvisational theater is not only a lot of fun but a highly refined system of observing, connecting and responding that has one major rule: "Yes, and." At its heart, improv is about group agreement and support -- saying yes to each other and building something new together.

Once again, the camp will be co-directed by Jim Ansaldo, a research scholar at the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, and Lacy Alana, the Building Connections program director at the Hideout Theatre of Austin, Texas.

“Last year’s camp was very well received,” Ansaldo said. “We hope to make an even bigger impact by offering two weeks of camp in 2016.”

Feedback from 2015 camp participants was overwhelmingly positive.

"I will use what I learned in social situations at school," one teen said. A teacher noted, “These days, I use my Camp Yes And curriculum weekly to support my middle schoolers' language and social communication goals ... and most importantly, they love it!”

To learn more about the camp and to register, visit the Camp Yes And website. For additional information, contact Jim Ansaldo at 812-855-6508 or jansaldo@indiana.edu.

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