Foundation creates a splash in Lebanon

Empower Me Day Camp Splash Pad

The A. O. Smith Foundation is making a splash with Lebanon, Tenn. nonprofit, Empower Me Day Camp, providing a contribution for the construction of a recreational splash pad.  

The splash pad, with an expected completion date of summer 2015, is anticipated to enhance the lives of special needs children ages 5-21, as well as the entire greater Nashville community. The splash pad is part of the “Daring to Dream” campaign which has the goal to build a state-of-the-art, disability-friendly recreational complex. The facility will include the splash pad, an adaptive playground, a Garden of Dreams, sports court, and a Miracle Field.

“The objective of the splash pad is to provide a safe area for the kids. Right now, our current ‘splash pad’ consists of different size buckets, hoses, and a plastic tarp, all of which need to be taken down each day and can often be difficult for some children to use,” Executive Director, Michelle Hill said.

“With this new splash pad, it will allow kids to play safely over a specialized turf without the fear of falling on uneven ground. It will also allow our blind and deaf kids to have better awareness of where structures are, since we will have a consistent location for the splash pad,” Hill continued. “And lastly it will allow kids to have more control over the water. Currently we have kids who are afraid of the consistent spraying hoses; with the splash pad, they can control the water pressure and consistency.”

Empower Me Day Camp was established in 1999 when Michelle found a lack of adequate recreational programs available to children with disabilities. As an occupational therapist with experience with special needs children, she thought her fellow coworkers would be the ideal group to establish a program where children with disabilities can learn, grow, and have fun. 

To help Empower Me Day Camp expand, they approached Lochinvar in 2010 in need of supporters for the actual day camp project.  

“After visiting the camp and listening to the proposal presentation of Empower Me, we were convinced they were truly committed to improving the lives of disabled children,” Lochinvar Human Resources Representative, Pam Carter said.  “This is an area of need in the community that had not been addressed prior to Empower Me Day Camp, and to this day, they are the only charity in the community dedicated to improving the lives of disabled children in this type of setting.”

Today, Empower Me Day Camp impacts the lives of over 1,000 children each year by offering different one-day programs year-round, and the summer camp program

“Ultimately we want to offer children an opportunity to interact with one another, events for the children and their families, and more opportunities for child care services,” Hill said.

“Thinking about it, we take a lot for granted, but for these children with disabilities, they are trying to overcome fears of daily activities and gain a positive self-esteem. With Empower Me Day Camp we want to offer the opportunities that will be able to grow their self-esteem, and most importantly empower themselves.”