Parents say a camp aimed at helping children with social skills deficits is the first of its kind in Columbia and has really made a difference in their children's lives

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Parents of children with social skills deficits are praising a new Columbia Camp.

Camp P.A.L.S is a six-week program aimed at helping communication skills while promoting physical activity. Dr. Allison Randel is a post doctoral fellow under Dr. Karen Lake and noticed there was a need for this type of resource and teaches a different theme like manners and teamwork each week.

"Some weeks it's bullying, problem solving. These are things that we are always having to deal with," said Dr. Randel. "So I don't think it's ever too late and that's why I did include a large range and we just split the groups up appropriately for the different activities so they're with their own age group."

Parents say the one-to-one adult-to-child ratio made up of mostly student volunteers really allows them to really explain processes.

"Conflict-resolution and problem solving, they get to practice that. So I think it's going to be key in helping with that," said Dr. Monica Wright, a psychologist who volunteers with the program and also sends her 13-year-old son. "Not only knowing how to solve it, but how to recognize it is also important and something that a lot of times these kids are missing."

Cathy Clark says in just three weeks, she's seen a major difference in her son Tyler. "It's been amazing. Even just seeing him today with a smile and coming right out to me," said Clark. "As soon as I was greeted they were like he's had such a wonderful day, he came out and said he had an awesome day. Even Dr. Randel's said she's never seen him quite like this."

The camp wraps up just before school starts and the parents say this will hopefully lessen issues their children have in the classroom.

Dr. Randel says she and Dr. Lake are currently looking for grants to expand the program next year.

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