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Kris had enough trouble walking – the idea of being strapped onto water skis and sliding backward into the water seemed impossible and frightening. Little did she know, camp would help her accomplish much more.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 9 months old, Kris often felt frustrated and isolated as a kid. Classmates avoided her because they were too scared to ask why she was different. She found herself frustrated watching both her older and younger siblings surpass her physical abilities while she still struggled to form words.

Then she attended a camp for youth with disabilities that partnered with UCP. In her 12 summers at camp, Kris not only conquered a fear and learned to water ski, she discovered her own capacity for independence.

“Camp taught me that I can live on my own,” Kris said. “They taught me that I can do things for myself, like wake up early and get dressed.”

At age 24, Kris decided to move into her own apartment with a roommate. Last year, she began living completely on her own.

“It’s still difficult for me, but I like having my own place with no one telling me what to do,” Kris said.

Kris attends American River College and at Christmas had the chance to throw her first party. Twenty family members and friends gathered in her apartment.

Kris now wants to be a pastor for people with disabilities. Through Facebook, she learned about a Christian club for teens and young adults with disabilities called WOW at Sunrise Community Church, and she is now one of the leaders.

“There were people with disabilities in old times and today,” Kris said. “I like teaching teens and young adults that there are people like them and they’re not alone.”

UCP’s Camp fosters independence.