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A Welcome Camp for Young People with Disabilities

Bonnie Perez Ramirez first heard the word “autism” 11 years ago, when a nurse suggested that her son should be diagnosed for it.

That began an intensely personal journey that led her to create Camp Ability, a week-long camp for El Paso teens and young adults with disabilities.

Since its beginning, Amerigroup Texas has been the camp’s primary funder. We love it because of the people and passion that fuel it — because of the joy that the campers get from the camp, and because of the joy that Bonnie and her staff get from the campers.

We also love it because it works. As Amerigroup Texas President and CEO Greg Thompson notes, projects like Camp Ability empower people with disabilities, help them create connections with others, and offer support that’s harder to find in a doctor’s office.

We believe in care that’s accessible, comprehensive, and centered on people and their lives and goals — the most expansive definition of health care. And we’re always looking to partner with passionate leaders and organizations as they find new ways to support our members and their larger communities.

Camp Ability (the subject of the video in this post) more than fits that bill. Organized under the Partners Resource Management, the camp is tailored to help teens and young adults advocate for themselves in their education, health care, and communities. It helps students with disabilities set high expectations for themselves — and it helps them achieve those expectations.

As one mother notes in the video, it’s often difficult to find resources for young people with disabilities — that’s true in communities across Texas, not just El Paso. Camp Ability connects parents with each other so they can learn about resources and talk about the issues and challenges that other parents of people with disabilities know too well.

For a week or two every year, Camp Ability brings together a diverse group of young people who are struggling with similar disabilities. They laugh, learn, play and smile — and they come out stronger and healthier for it.

That’s what health should look like.

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