Over 700 cyclists put cleats to pedals to raise money for Chai Lifeline’s children and families in two separate events this summer. read full story
It’s always enchanting to watch the buses pull in to Camp Simcha. Four times a summer, children alight into the waiting arms of counselors, go through a purple arch and emerge into a world where illness recedes and fun awaits. read full story
Lindsay Hilton was born without lower limbs on her legs or arms, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming a CrossFit sensation, company spokesperson, and award-winning adaptive athlete. This summer, she added motivational speaker to her long list of accomplishments when she broke numerous barriers for the girls of Camp Simcha Special. read full story
A unique collaboration between Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic and Johns Hopkins Medical Center is integrating young volunteers into Chai Lifeline while creating exciting programs for children battling a number of medical conditions.
In the spring of 2016, Eli was diagnosed with a serious chronic disorder. As the realities of his new life, one where he would be more restricted in his movement, sunk in, he became more withdrawn. Concerned, they confided their worries to their Chai Lifeline West Coast case manager. read full story
Adolescence is a time when parents of teens with chronic illnesses or medical challenges may want to tear their hair out.
Adolescence is the period where teens need to psychologically move away from their parents and become more independent. Many times, teens will push limits to see how far they can go.
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When a child is born or diagnosed with a serious illness, brothers and sisters are bound to be impacted. Why do some exhibit signs of stress or depression while others seem to thrive?
Siblings living alongside a child with a chronic illness will experience a jumble of positive and negative reactions. They can feel love and a combination of resentment, embarrassment, guilt, sorrow or fear simultaneously. Without the skills to understand and cope, a child’s self-esteem can suffer. Anger and guilt can turn inward, leading to a sense of shame or worthlessness. Depression, anxiety or somatic symptoms can arise.
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Too often, our default emotion when we hear about childhood illness is pity. It’s natural to feel awful when confronted with the reality of pediatric illness, but does it really reflect how children with illnesses see themselves?
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Two Questions To Ask Yourself About Summer Camp For Your Child
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While most parents of overnight campers are already thinking about trunks and sunscreen, there remains a group of moms and dads who are still on the fence about sleepaway camp. Many parents of children who are ill or disabled haven’t found the camp that meets their child’s needs.
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Rivkah Reichmann, the associate director of Camp Simcha Special, a camp for chronically ill and disabled children and teens in Glen Spey, NY, has counseled hundreds of parents since the camp was established in 2001. She asks parents two questions to help them decide on camping options.
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Can the child’s health and safety needs be met by the camp?
Clearly, this is the most important concern regardless of a child’s health status. Parents should ascertain that the camp’s facilities are appropriate. If the child needs a wheelchair or walker, there should be easy access to every building so that the child can participate in all aspects of camp life. As important, maintenance and cleanliness standards must be high. Parents should also check the medical program: is there staff who can deal with both day-to-day needs and emergencies? Does the camp have emergency procedures in place? What about medication? Injections? Does the camp feel confident that its medical staff can deal with your child’s health requirements? Do you?
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What about your child’s social and emotional needs?
Summer camp is about friends and fun, but it’s also about growth and self-enhancement. The best camp for your child is the one that will allow him or her to shine through friendships and new skills. When the choice is between a “normal” camp and one designed for children with special needs, parents should consider the child’s social life throughout the year. Children who have to work to keep up may do better in a camp where everyone is working at their pace.
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“Sometimes children with illnesses or disabilities are the only kids who are sick in school. They are labeled. They feel left out. They may have few friends. These children may do better in an environment of peers, where all the children are struggling with similar challenges,” said Mrs. Reichmann. “They learn to appreciate their own strengths and differences. They are no longer isolated. The ‘bump’ they get at camp may be enough to make a difference all year long.”
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Adam Wolf was born prematurely. At birth he suffered a brain hemorrhage. His parents were told he would never hold his head up, talk, or walk.
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That was 16 years ago.
In January, as a member of Team Lifeline, Adam crossed the finish line of the Miami Half Marathon on his own two feet. Surrounded by counselors from Camp Simcha & Camp Simcha Special, his mother, Ali, and lots of well-wishers, Adam traded his wheelchair for a walker and walked the last 1.1 miles unaided.
Team Lifeline is one of Chai Lifeline’s endurance-training programs. Runners, walkers, and cyclists raise money for the organization while training for a marathon, half-marathon or to cycle in America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride. The Team Lifeline presence at this year’s Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon was over 450 strong.
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The program attracts dozens of parents whose children have been helped by the organization. It is a way that they can say “Thank you” for the strength, confidence, and self-esteem that Chai Lifeline gives to kids who are isolated by illness. “Kids in wheelchairs don’t have a lot of play dates,” Ms. Wolf said. Camp Simcha Special gives the teen summers filled with friendship and experiences and a growing group of friends with whom he’s in contact all year long.
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The crowd roared as Adam neared the finish line. Other runners slowed their gait, sacrificing their own times, to join the growing crowd singing and chanting “Adam! Adam!” His mother’s eyes filled with tears as she realized that her son, the boy who wasn’t supposed to walk, was about to go through the finish gate.
“What Team Lifeline and Chai Lifeline have given us is beyond words. For Adam to have accomplished such a huge goal is more significant than the medal he received. He now knows he can set high goals and achieve the impossible. All he needed is a little inspiration,” Ali concluded.