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Savannah summer camp in 28th year of serving area's special-needs children

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SAVANNAH, Georgia — A special summer camp is Savannah is marking its 28th year of serving southeast Georgia children with severe disabilities.

It's called the Summer Therapeutic Enrichment Program of Savannah— STEPS for short. The Savannah Morning News reports (http://bit.ly/1mfKzPP ) that STEPS is the only state-certified summer program of its kind for school-aged children in the region.

The program held an open house Thursday for sponsors and families of campers. The four-week long camp opened June 19 and continues through July 17 at Sol C. Johnson High School.

Ella Johnson was among those at the open house. Her grandson, 19-year-old Shaikwon, is attending STEPS for the third year. Johnson said he "loves this camp so much."

Johnson, who is raising Shaikwon by herself, said she doesn't know what she'd do in the summer without the program. "I guess he'd be stuck home with me," she told the Morning News. "I don't have a way to get him out of the house."

STEPS tuition is $500, though the organization uses donations to provide need-based scholarships. It also gets money from the Savannah-Chatham County public school system and state government.

Campers get transportation to and from the program, along with two meals and activities including swimming, bowling, movies, games in the gym and field trips. Classroom time is spent doing arts and crafts and other projects.

Janet Stone, a financial supporter of STEPS, praised the program.

"This is an incredible program that is totally under the radar," she said. "It never occurred to me before to ask what is available for these children during the summer. ... It's so wonderful. People need to know about it."

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