As a young Child Life Specialist in training, Jena Martin had always been interested in sign language and had always had a heart for children with special needs.
She is grateful for the influence and example Camp Wonder Hands Co-Founder Marolyn Amick provided.
Today, Martin and her husband, Brad, are the parents of four adopted children. “It has been a remarkable journey,” said Martin. In the span of two years, the couple adopted four children from two sibling groups.
Sons Dakota, 7 and Jacob, 10, were fostered by the Martins before their adoption was finalized in May 2016. The brothers had been through four previous foster homes and much transitioning in their young lives. “Dakota came to us at age 4-1/2 and was not yet potty trained,” said Martin.
“Brad and I noticed that something more was going on and after testing, we found that he couldn’t hear.”
There had been no previous recognition of Dakota’s hearing problem and no early intervention. “Dakota is just now catching up socially and we are thankful that camps like Camp Wonder Hands exist,” said Martin.
Dakota was a first-time camper at Camp Wonder Hands last July. As part of the camp’s sibling program, Dakota was able to bring his big brother, Jacob.
The Martins also are the parents of their 1-year-old biological great-niece, Gracie and her baby brother, Jackson.
“Camp was so fun! I can’t believe I rode a motorcycle. The counselors really helped me the whole time to not be scared and to try my best,” said Dakota.
“I didn’t want to go at first because I’ve never been to camp and I was worried about making friends,” said Jacob. “It was my favorite week of the whole summer. I can’t wait to go next year!”
“Camp was an amazing experience for both of our boys. Neither had stayed overnight away from us for that length of time and neither had attended a camp, so it was definitely a first,” said Martin. “I am so thankful for the loving camp staff, their encouragement, support, understanding, and willingness to get to our kids with special needs on their own journey to make it the best experience possible.”