VACC Camp helps special needs children celebrate spring break

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Dr. Moises Simpser Ventilation Assisted Children’s Center is helping children with special needs and their families celebrate a week at the beach this spring break.

VACC Camp, along with volunteers, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Miami Beach Firefighters participated in the first beach day of the week for 22 children on Monday.

“This is a camp that has been going on for children who are dependent on some kind of technology to breathe. It’s a specialized camp that had very big logistics,” said VACC Camp Director Dr. Maria Franco.

The annual trip brings children from across the world to South Florida.

“We have people from Rhode Island, people from Venezuela,” said Franco, “which was not easy for them to come. It’s just a big, big event.”

Specialized beach wheelchairs were used for those who needed them while special hand-held ventilators were used to assist children who couldn’t use their devices while swimming.

Christopher Alvarez is one camper who comes from New York with his family annually.

“It’s really motivating to get to see all the kids get to enjoy the water,” said Alvarez.

“It’s special because I can see another child and another mom like me and that gives me strength,” said parent Paula Nagle.

Eight-year-old Andrew has attended VACC camp for five years, but this year was different.

His mother said this is the first time he didn’t need a ventilator.

“They love it. They prepare for this every year. Now he’s not wearing the vent since one year. When he was wearing the vent it was hard for me to bring him to the ocean,” said Andrew’s mother.

Knowing the hardships these families face is the reason the camp continues with their annual beach trips.

“This is beautiful because every year they finish the camp, and they’re already thinking about the next year. They talk to each other, they want to be together. This is a highlight,” said Franco.

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