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“Just Keep Trying” Adaptive Athlete Tells Camp Simcha Special Girls

Adaptive athlete Lindsay Hilton had a clear message for the girls of Camp Simcha Special: "Just try."

Adaptive athlete Lindsay Hilton had a clear message for the girls of Camp Simcha Special: “Just try.”

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

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MID-ATLANTIC “ENTOURAGE” BRINGS YOUNG VOLUNTEERS TO JOHNS HOPKINS

Entourage offers younger volunteers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of  peers living with illnesses.


Entourage offers younger volunteers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of peers living with illnesses.

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.

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Paws of Love Helps Children Emerge From Their Shells

Interacting with pets has physical and emotional benefits for children with illnesses.

Interacting with pets has physical and emotional benefits for children with illnesses.*
*Photo used for illustrative purposes only.

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 As the realities of his new life, one where he would be more restricted in his movement, sunk in, he became more withdrawn.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

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5 Steps to Take To Nudge Your Teen With Chronic Illness to Take Responsibility For Her Health

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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Parents can take concrete steps to help brothers and sisters thrive despite the illness of a sibling.

Fitting Everyone In: Raising Healthy Siblings When a Child is Ill

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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New Video Shows That There Are No Limits to What Sick Kids Can Do.

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Despite having lost both his legs to illness, Benji maintains there are no limits to what he will accomplish in life.

 

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

Two Questions To Ask Yourself About Summer Camp For Your Child

The right camp experience is the one that offers children fun, friendship, and a chance to enhance their social and emotional toolbox.

The right camp experience is the one that offers children fun, friendship, and a chance to enhance their social and emotional toolbox.


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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.”

 

Tears of Joy As Adam Walks Over the Finish Line

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Surrounded by counselors and friends, Adam Wolf crosses the Miami Marathon finish line.

Surrounded by counselors and friends, Adam Wolf crosses the Miami Marathon finish line.


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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.

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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.

7 Tips to Remember When Breaking Bad News to Children

7 Tips to Remember When Breaking Bad News to Children

 

There are a million reasons why we can’t shield our children from the reality of death. Nor should we.

 Our challenge is not to keep bad news at bay, but to help our children understand, accept and express themselves when it happens.
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Adults can help children synthesize news of death, tragedy, or trauma into their lives. 
Adults can help children synthesize news of death, tragedy, or trauma into their lives.

It will be the rare child who will pass into adulthood without being touched by the death of someone close. Events like this week’s massacre at a Har Nof, Israel, synagogue, splashed all over the media in gory detail, can also shock or trigger distress. Chai Lifeline’s crisis team offers parents a 7-point guide for adults who must help children process a personal or communal tragic event.

1. Get yourself under control. Showing emotion is appropriate. Allowing yourself to be overcome with grief when transmitting news is scary for children. They need to know that an adult will take care of them.

2. Talk about death in age appropriate, direct, factual terms. Speak in a gentle voice. Parents can hug their children, hold their hands, or place their arm around their shoulders.

3. Encourage children to give voice to their feelings. Emphasize that there are no right or wrong reactions. Validate their emotions. Chances are, whether the dominant feeling is sadness, anger, relief that someone is no longer in pain, or intense longing, others feel it as well.oakley gascan sunglasses

4. Focus children’s attention on activities that can provide solace. If they don’t want to speak, they may feel better by drawing, writing in a journal, playing, making music or engaging in art projects.

5. Let children know who they can turn to for support. Never leave a child feeling stranded.

6. Encourage children to engage in activities they find comforting and relaxing. Let them know that even the saddest people need to play, be with friends, and distract themselves or they will be overwhelmed by grief. At the same time, you need to allow children to be children. Don’t get upset when they act their age.

7. Understand that children process bad news differently at each stage of childhood.Cheap ray ban sunglasses

Getting Your Kids Into the Game

Getting Your Kids Into the Game

Most of us recognize Title IX as the shorthand for Federal regulations requiring schools to provide equal access to sports to women. But do you know that similar regulations mandate that children in schools that receive federal funding have equal opportunities to participate in all activities, including sports and extracurricular programs?
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 In theory, this means that schoolchildren can’t be left out because of physical or cognitive disabilities. In reality, inclusion takes understanding and work on the parts of families, schools, community sports leagues and sports facilities.  
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Sports and group activities are an important outlet for all children, regardless of health or abilities.

Sports and group activities are an important outlet for all children, regardless of health or abilities.

 
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Many times, children who are ill or who have disabilities end up on the sidelines simply because no one knows how to include them or because they fear that inclusion will be expensive, intrusive, or uncomfortable for healthy children. Sometimes, talking to coaches, teachers, and other parents can help ease the way for a disabled athlete. Be prepared to stand your ground, though. PGA pro Casey Martin, who suffers from a degenerative nerve disease, went all the way to the Supreme Court to assert his right to use a golf cart in tournaments.
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Remember that some sports activities are easier to integrate. Disabled athletes can use prosthetics during swim meets or hand cycles during bicycling events without impacting other children. Team sports require more cooperation, but isn’t what we’re trying to teach children when they play together? If you encounter resistance (and even Casey Martin’s pro-colleagues groused when he needed a golf cart), ask dissenters to remember that sports are supposed to be fun for children. It isn’t – and shouldn’t be – all about winning. Offer to speak to classes and teams about inclusion. Many times, the kids get it before their parents. They feel good about helping someone else feel like part of the group.
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If your child needs more assistance than your school or town can give, there are organizations that specialize in everything from adaptive skiing to therapeutic riding to running marathons.  Disabled Sports USA is a good place to start. The New York City Sports Commission lists NY State resources, including adaptive playgrounds; other states may have similar guides.

Physical activity promotes cardiovascular and physical strength and increases range of motion and physical activities. These are as important for sick children as healthy ones. Most important, mastery of a sport or activity (at any level) helps children feel good about themselves. The self-confidence and esteem will transfer to other areas of their lives. So encourage all children — healthy, ill, or disabled — to have fun!

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