“Now you’re not going to be known as Camper Ajay, you’re going to be known as Counselor Ajay.”
That’s what Dawn Willard-Robinson, Director of Pine Tree Camp said to Ajay when he accepted the job as camp counselor this summer.
After he said yes, his first thought was “I finally get to help kids like me and show what I’ve learned.”
Ajay has attended Pine Tree Camp since he was 8. He’s now 19 and about to graduate from Lewiston High School. Last year, he told his job coach that his dream was to be a counselor at Pine Tree Camp.
“If I hadn’t gone to Pine Tree Camp, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It helped me to see the bigger picture, like what I could do in the future.”
His father Andre said, “We’ve been hoping for this. Ajay has always said he wants to work with kids with disabilities because he can relate.”
Spending time with other campers helped Ajay see he’s not the only person with a disability. Knowing he’s not alone has given him the confidence to try new things and follow his dreams. He sees other campers with more severe disabilities accomplish things he would never think possible and knows that if they can do it, he can do it too.
Andre said, “This is a big step and it’s really exciting and really nerve wracking. He’s at the point where he’s transitioning to an adult case manager. He’s getting older and ready to take on more independence.”
Ajay’s goal is to be a role model for other people with disabilities and he and his parents hope his counseling job this summer will open a path for him to continue in this line of work and lead to other opportunities for employment in this field.
Ajay added, “It inspires me that kids will look up to me and say ‘I want to be like him. He has a disability and look what he’s doing. I could do that too.’”