Senator Harkin Has High Hopes for Siouxland Disabilities Camp

He authored what some call the Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities - the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Friday, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin toured a new Siouxland camp dedicated to their needs.

The almost-retired lawmaker helped obtain some federal funding for Camp High Hopes, which is offering its first summer session of fun and safe camping for kids and adults with disabilities.

Meet Grace - she may be one of the tiniest tour guides you've ever seen but she led the way as Senator Tom Harkin got a first hand look at Camp High Hopes.

"To be able to have a camper like Grace to be able to explain to a Senator like Tom Harkin about why these things are important to her and she's talking about what she likes to do in camp and she's showing him how easily accessible it is. It's just cool," says Ali Langseth, the CEO of Camp High Hopes.

And the heat outside didn't keep Grace from showing the Senator all the camp has to offer.

"Kids with disabilities are like kids without disabilities. They aren't one dimensional. They're multi-dimensional. So just like any other kid they've got to have an outlet for their artistic endeavors, maybe their sports endeavors, physical activity. You know, we're long past the time when kids with disabilities sit at home and watch T. V.," says Iowa Senator Tom Harkin.

Harkin, the author of the American with Disabilities Act, helped get $300,000 in funding from the federal government for the camp and has been a huge supporter since the beginning.

"If you design something for people with disabilities, we call it Universal Design, everybody can use it. And a lot of times people without disabilities find it easier to use things when they're designed for people with disabilities," says Senator Harkin.

It's an interesting concept that he says is being seen more in architectural design.

One of the cool things about Camp High Hopes is that it's not just a summer camp - they offer a fall session with all kinds of indoor activities. The camp's CEO says she has big plans for the future.

"Love to have more cabins. Looking at plans for a pool someday, more recreation space, a standalone med center, so this really is just the beginning. I mean we just opened last fall," says Langseth.

Camp High Hopes currently holds 25 campers and has 7 full time staff on board. The camp is open to children, teens or adults diagnosed with disabilities, chronic illnesses or other special needs.

It's not too late to sign your child up for the fall session. Deadline is August 1st. Just visit Camp High Hopes' website: or call 712-224-CAMP (2267)