HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Students with disabilities across the Rio Grande Valley gathered to practice using their sensory and social skills independently.

Students with visual impairments from Brownsville, Edinburg, Rio Hondo, and Santa Rosa gathered at Bass Pro Shops for a scavenger hunt and visited Chick-Fil-A to learn how to communicate and make purchases.

The gathering was brought together by the Region One ESC Special Education Program and Valley-wide teachers as a way to focus on a summer camp expanded core curriculum.

The program focuses on improving performance and program effectiveness for students with disabilities by utilizing sensory efficiency, recreation, leisure, and mobility skills.

“What we’ve been doing is we’ve been trying to pull them [students] together for events like this, where they can meet with each other, talk with each other and make new connections and then not feel so alone in the world,” Susie Andrews, special education specialist for visual impairments with Region One said.

Region One’s expanded core curriculum is used to define concepts and skills for students with disabilities in order to make up for decreased opportunities.

“They realize that they’re not alone, that there’s someone else out there like them, and that they can be together and work together and do fun things together,” Andrews said.

One student describes his new experience with his peers as comforting and relaxing.

“You feel out of place or kind of struggling… But when you get to do stuff like this, it just relaxes and kind of just, you know, makes you feel somewhat normal,” student Micah Mendez said. “I’d like to thank my mom and dad. They supported me and my brother for showing us that stuff like this is possible for us to relax and be normal.”