We believe that nature is the best sensory and social playground. Children can acquire the skills they need through play in a natural environment to be successful, happy, engaged, with increased independence. It is critical for the development of all children to integrate their senses while moving and playing as this is the foundation to all learning. By feeding the senses we are facilitating sensory motor skills, language skills, higher lever critical thinking skills, academic skills, and attention and behavior. By bringing the “clinic” outside it is a much more natural way for children to acquire these critical life skills.

This program is led by Jenny Gandee and Tiffany Higgins.

Jenny Gandee, M.Ed. CCC-SLP

Jenny Gandee is a speech and language pathologist with 20 years of experience. She has worked with children from ages 2-12 with a specialty in Autism and inclusivity. Jenny happens to have an amazing daughter Blaire who just turned 12 and has Autism. When Blaire was officially diagnosed at age four, she knew this was her life's work. In watching Blaire "play", Jenny realized that her daughter was not only playing outside but she was engaging her sensory systems, when she was constantly swinging, climbing trees, digging in the dirt, hammering, and raking. Blaire's play was helping her to reach a calm state of arousal so she could in turn give the adaptive response needed to interact with the surrounding world. It has been Jenny's dream to offer a therapeutic summer camp for children with Autism and sensory processing deficits while engaging their senses in nature.

Jenny also has a son who is 16 and she enjoys playing tennis and vacationing with her family. She has served on the board of Autism Unbound for five years.

Tiffany Higgins, BA, OTR/L

Tiffany Higgins is an occupational therapist with 18 years of experience. She has worked in a variety of settings to include pediatric outpatient rehabilitation, nursing homes, home health care, early intervention, and school systems. She currently provides services to children with special needs in the Guilford County Public Schools. Although Tiffany has worked in a variety of settings, with a variety of disabilities, she knew early on after doing a clinical at a Sensory Integration Clinic in West Bloomfield, MI, that pediatrics was the area she felt called to, with a specific interest in sensory processing. After practicing for a few years, she also knew her desire was to work with children in their natural environments (home, school, & play grounds) where their occupations of work and play occur. Tiffany has two amazing children, both of whom were born prematurely. Along with the great joys of parenting, have come great challenges. One of her children has a diagnosis of ADHD and SPD, but both of her children need to MOVE to be happy, healthy, and organized! Tiffany has spent the past 6 years annoying her friends and family as she incessantly talks about her concerns with children not getting enough time to move and play and how this is impacting their overall development.

In April 2015, Tiffany was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her shift focused from her career goals to fighting for her life. Today, after staring down her mortality and realizing just how precious each and every day is, Tiffany wanted to stop talking about this need to move and start doing something about it! Essentially, that was the catalyst of events that has helped to make her dream of a therapeutic nature based camp that brings the “clinic” outside a reality and part of the story of how Camp LEAP IN was born.