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Their Voice: Moving Mountains Soccer Camp is back

By Monica Villar - Special to the Daily Herald | May 21, 2022


Monica Villar

If this were a perfect world, and the people who lived it in came without personal challenges, everyone would be able to participate in their activities of choice without fear or dread of making mistakes or being judged for their uniqueness. Parents wouldn’t have to worry about protecting their children from the confusion of others who don’t quite understand that uniqueness.

Although the gap between people with and without disabilities seems to become more narrow everyday, it is still there to some degree. Today, children and adults with developmental disabilities are more mainstreamed than ever. In school, for example, students share classes, have lunch, participate in activities and develop solid relationships with their peers. Adults are present in the workforce and a variety of social settings as well.

However, due to the nature of certain developmental disabilities, for those children and adults to feel completely safe and comfortable in integrated environments, more care and skills must be learned. For example, many individuals with autism very different responses to stimuli than other people. Children yelling at a game may sound invigorating to us, but can be like blaring trumpets to them, initiating a need to escape. Crowds, which are common at events, may feel stifling and overwhelming to someone who has not yet learned the skills to express their fears. This sensory overload leads not only to a dissatisfaction of the event for the individual, but also adds stress to the parents who only want to see their family member participate in the activity.

The contradiction between wanting to participate with their peers and the uncertainty of the results of this participation is the exact reason for programs like “Moving Mountains Soccer Camp.” Jenny Wunder and her family are the motivating force behind bringing this organization to Utah County in 2016 — although she credits the idea to a little boy named Charlie.

“Charlie was 4 years old and loved soccer and was diagnosed with autism. He went to a school in Salt Lake with my twin sons who also are in the autism spectrum.” She continues, “Charlie’s neighbors and friends knew how much he loved soccer but there was a fear of putting him in a regular league because of his potential to run away or act out. Some of the girls in the area, who played competitive soccer, started a camp where Charlie and other kids like him could learn the game of soccer and play without fear.”

Although Jenny’s boys loved participating in the camp, it was difficult for them to travel to Salt Lake. So, with the help of their daughter Kiley and her friends, they are starting a camp here for the first time this year. According to Wunder, “the name Moving Mountains came from the Dr. Seuss book that he husband loves to read to their children ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go.'”

“Moving Mountains” is a two-day event for kids between 3 and 11 with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Its main mission is to make it possible for these children to experience the fun of playing soccer with the security of working one on one with a volunteer who is trained in working with these children. After two years without this program due to COVID-19, they are happy to be bringing it back on June 24 and 25 at the UVU practice soccer field. There is a $10 non-refundable charge at registration. Registration is available at https://bit.ly/3jYieS7.

The hope is that, perhaps through these events, children will learn not only skills to play the game, but also skills that will enable them to participate in other sports side by side with their peers. Then, as Dr. Seuss predicts in his book … “and will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.) Kid, you’ll move mountains!”


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