Local Teen Finds Niche at Clovernook Center’s Summer Camp

September 15, 2023

Tai Stewart, 13, has always been athletic. As a young child, he played several sports like tennis and Little League Baseball. But as he aged, most sports weren’t modified to accommodate his low vision and he was no longer able to participate. That all changed when he stumbled upon Camp Abilities — Clovernook Center’s first ever SLEEPAWAY Camp held at Miami University’s Oxford campus in June.

“Luckily, a friend referred us to Clovernook Center and Camp Abilities,” said Abi Esmena, Stewart’s mom. “The camp featured education and recreational opportunities like hockey and tennis.”

“I was going to go to Florida this summer,” said Stewart. “But my best friend, Nate, told me about this camp, and I didn’t want to miss out. There were sports, a lot of sports! And I loved spending the night, even though we didn’t sleep a whole lot.”

While Stewart loved the sporting activities, his mom is thankful he had the opportunity to build new friendships with  people he can relate to, without having to modify or miss out. “We loved that he got to go away and understand what a college experience could look like for him.”

Since June, Stewart has participated in rock climbing with Clovernook Center and adaptive tennis session in partnership with the Cincinnati Tennis Foundation. He also represented Clovernook Center at an adaptive tennis class that was held during the Western & Southern Open.

“Tai and his camp friends have a group chat where they talk or play online games together almost daily,” said Esmena. “It’s nice that he’s developed a community of people that experience life in the same way.”

While they are newer to Clovernook Center, Stewart and his mom are committed to encouraging others to explore the available sports and leisure programming. Esmena even plans to get the proper certification so she can help at Clovernook Center’s extremely popular rock climbing outings.

And as for camp 2024, Tai said, “everyone wants to go back again!”.

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