Mark and Lori Celesky of Boarding House Farms, Inc., an educational animal display company, brought half a dozen animals to campus so the kids could enjoy their own personal petting zoo.
The Celesky's parked their animal trailer in the J.P. Lord School parking lot adjacent to Camp Munroe. With the children sitting in rapture, they brought out - one animal at a time - a llama, sheep, pigmy goat, Toulouse goose, miniature donkey, and a miniature horse with a 4-week old foal.
"Sensory integration is an important component of working with developmentally disabled children," said Shantel Crellin, recreational therapist with the Munroe-Meyer Institute department of recreational therapy. "It can often be a significant achievement to get one of our kids to even touch an animal. In addition, a lot of our kids are from urban areas and never get a chance to see real animals up close and personal like this."
Mark Celesky provides all the commentary about what kind of animal it is and its habits. He interacted with the Camp Munroe children in a way that had them laughing, learning and ultimately, yearning to touch some of the animals.
The animals had names such as Freckles (goat), Andy (goose), Rodney (sheep), Cecelia (donkey) and Tiny (mare) and Thunder (foal). Within minutes of introducing each animal, the 30 youths, accompanied by student volunteer assistants, had a new round of questions.
"We always try to talk to the age level of our audience - and take a little extra care when dealing with developmentally disabled children," said Celesky, who's been bringing his animals to children's groups for 16 years. "One of my other children, Hunter, is 5-years old and has some special needs. He was evaluated right here at the Munroe-Meyer Institute. We were very happy to come back here with our animals for the Camp Munroe kids."