July 18, 2007

Media Advisory — Touch of Nature project

Student volunteers from across the country will spend part of their summer helping to improve facilities at a Carbondale-area camp that serves children and adults with disabilities.

From Sunday, July 22, through Friday morning July 27, 22 undergraduate student volunteers from universities across the country will help build an accessible fishing pier for use by Camp Little Giant and other program participants at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Touch of Nature Environmental Center. The volunteers are participants in Push America.

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the philanthropic undertaking. Touch of Nature is seven miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. To arrange a visit, call Touch of Nature and ask for either Bruce W. Francis, facilities superintendent, at 453-1122, ext. 246, or David L. Gename, associate director, at extension 240. The contact for Push America is Chad Coltrane, chief executive officer, at 704/504-2400.

The volunteers are participating in "Build America," a cross-country construction team that makes several weeklong stops around the nation over summer break to construct accessible amenities at facilities serving disabled persons. Pi Kappa Phi, a non-profit organization that promotes lifelong service in its members and serves people with disabilities, runs the program.

The volunteers are from 14 schools. They represent the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Arizona State University, Coastal Carolina University, University of Colorado-Boulder, Georgia Tech, Indiana State University, University of Iowa, Miami University, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri-Rolla, Missouri State University, University of Texas-Arlington, Virginia Tech and Washington State University.

According to Push America organizers, this team has been together since June 28 and is currently working in Missouri at its third camp. For more information about team members and projects, go to http://www.pushamerica.org/events/te_journal.cfm?ride_code=BAM&ridecode=BAM.

This is the third consecutive year that Touch of Nature will benefit from the fraternity's commitment to community service. The Push America grant includes a $5,000 cash award to help fund the cost of construction materials. Supplemental funding for the project is provided by Wright's Do-It-Center in Murphysboro, with additional support from SIUC's Plant and Service Operations through professional project management and supervision, and by underwriting any additional materials costs.

SIUC operates the center and prides itself on its expertise and experience in providing therapeutic recreation to special populations. The residential camp is co-educational. The camp has been providing continuous summer camping programs since 1951, and was the nation's first university-affiliated residential camping program for people with disabilities.

To learn more about Push America or Touch of Nature, go to www.pushamerica.org, or to www.ton.siu.edu.