Why AIH started
Our Executive Director started the camp in July 2017 after living with two children that love to sing and dance and also have special needs. She saw how much they would love show choir and believed that they should have that opportunity. In La Crosse, WI, where the first camps were held, there are opportunities for individuals with disabilities to be active in a hobby of their choosing from sled hockey to horse back riding to fishing to soccer. These camps started to be just another piece to the puzzle in creating an inclusive environment in the La Crosse community.
Our first camps
The first camp was in the summer of 2017 at Onalaska High School with eight participating students, who are a part of their schools' special education program, between the ages of 11 and 21. The camp was three days long for about three hours each day, and it concluded with a performance on stage in a local show choirs' annual camp show. The camp was such a success that a second camp was held the following February with double the students. The camps are now annual. The second summer camp was held last summer with such large numbers it had to be split into two, and there is a camp planned for the winter.
How we continue to grow
Since starting the camps, the organization has received requests from all across Wisconsin to bring these camps to their communities. In the summer of 2019, Abilities in Harmony will be holding about eight camps across Wisconsin and Minnesota. Because of the organization's growing budget and additional locations, they have incorporated as a 501c3 tax exempt non-profit organization.