Virginia Beach

Ability Center of Va. celebrates music with adults with special needs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va, (WAVY) -- Going to a bar or club on your 21st birthday is a rite of passage for many people.  But for those with disabilities, things many people take for granted aren't always easy.

The Ability Center of Virginia works with adults and kids with special needs and disabilities.  This week, they held their adult music camp and ended it with a celebration. 

You might think a bar and a camp for people with disabilities is an unlikely pair, but the joy inside of Beach House Live was contagious. 

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of them," said Ashley Hall, who is the camp director for the Ability Center of Virginia.  

This week's camp focused on music and Hall says she wanted to create an authentic club experience. 

"I didn't want to just rent a venue," Hall said.  "I didn't want to just put a disco ball in a building."

The adults ate, drank mock-tails and danced with friends, many who are volunteers at the camp.

"They would never be able to do it anywhere else and so I think the Ability Center of Virginia gives them the opportunity to do things that normal people could," said volunteer Emma Niland.

It's Niland's fifth year volunteering with the program, so she knows many of the adults well.  She said, "It's unlike any other kind of bond.  It's something that's so unique where they're very dependent on you and you get to learn everything about them."

She says it's a fun week for everyone.

"No matter who you are, you should be treated the same and be given the same kinds of opportunities," said Niland.

Instead of feeling like adults with disabilities, these adults just feel like adults. 

"They get to feel "normal." There is no normal, but this is authentic, and that's what I mean," said Hall.

The Ability Center of Virginia has camps for adults, kids and teens all summer long.


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