Clay Aiken – Wonderfully Important Things

CBS hosted the 56th Grammy Awards on Sunday night. The big winner of the night was Daft Punk .The group won record of the year and album of the year.

Clay Aiken was not at the Grammys. Although he is one of the best vocalists in the industry today, he is not a part of the festivities. It used to bother me, but now I look at all the wonderfully important things that Clay has done instead.

One of my favorite past events was called Camp Gonzo. In 2004, almost ten years ago, the Bubel/Aiken Foundation raised enough money to start the program for 10 weeks. The weeks were hosted in Concord, Kansas City, and Raleigh. The purpose was to develop an inclusive recreational experience for children with and without disabilities

The pilot program was named Camp Gonzo. Inclusion experts and professors in the field of special education and developmental disabilities from some of the county’s most celebrated universities created an amazing and innovative curriculum that allows all children to play alongside each other and learn from each other despite disabilities. The program grew and developed and is now known as The National Inclusion Project’s, Let’s All Play.

Clay was interviewed by Caregiver’s Magazine in 2004. He answered this question:

CM: What are some of the things that the foundation has done so far?

CA: Our biggest achievement is something that we’re working in this summer called “Project Gonzo,” named after a nickname I had at the Y years ago. It is a partnership with the YMCA of the USA, who are a group that I wanted to kind of kick-in-the-butt to start including individuals with disabilities. So the partnership of the YMCA/USA is to start integrating kids with disabilities into already established camp programs. We have a program now in Kansas City, at the Kansas City YMCA, and at the one in Raleigh where I worked, and one in Charlotte. We are going to provide training for the staff that already exists, hands-on stuff, and include kids with disabilities in with their regular camp program, so this will be our pilot program this summer. We will advance it further later on….

So…even though I am sad that Clay was not a part of the Grammy Awards, I can’t help thinking that Clay is more proud of this accomplishment than any Grammy Award.

The pictures of Camp Gonzo make me smile!

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