The Issue: Isolation Caused by Stigmatizing Medical Conditions
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause severe and potentially stigmatizing symptoms in youth including persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and delays in puberty, according to reports from the National Institutes of Health. Children with these conditions may also need to take 20 pills and have up to two-dozen bowel movements every day, impairing their ability to engage in activities with their peers. However, outdoor retreats for youth experiencing a common illness gives kids a chance to participate in activities without worrying about shocking their peers due to their medical condition. Engaging in groups without fear of stigma can also promote healing and self-acceptance.
The Campaign: Sponsoring Camp Excursion for Youth
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation to send children with Crohn’s or Colitis to a five-day summer camp. For every $300 raised, the organization will be able to provide a one-day scholarship for one child to attend summer camp.
Located at Camp Will-A-Way in Winder, Georgia, CCFA’s Camp Oasis is a summer camp for children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, where they can live together in cabins and participate in traditional camp activities such as archery, horseback riding, and canoeing. Regional Education and Support Manager Mary Ball explains that the camp offers an "environment where youth can be themselves and are not isolated with their disease the way they are in everyday life." Doctors and mental-health specialists remain onsite to assist the youth with medical issues, but for the most part, the children spend the week playing and interacting with their peers in the outdoors without the burden of worrying about their conditions.
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
In the mid 1980s, a group of concerned citizens founded the Georgia chapter of The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (CCFA), which now serves a constituency of 32,000 people. The original members all had personal experience with the diseases and wanted to raise awareness in their community to help find a cure.
Today, The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation provides support for patients and their families, and sponsors a variety of events across the country and in the Georgia region to raise awareness and funds for research on these debilitating diseases. One such event is the Team Challenge half marathon, which Regional Education and Support Manager Mary Ball calls a “life-changing experience.” Other diverse events include the Take Steps fundraising walk, the Torch Gala with a seated dinner and live music, and Camp Oasis, a summer camp for kids with Crohn’s and colitis. With funding from these national events, CCFA has supported a wide range of research initiatives from new medications and surgical procedures to new ways of identifying the two diseases.
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