Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Where ill children can be kids again

Young folks with medical conditions that require special attention often think of themselves as "patients" instead of children. But for two days each summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, they can quit being patients and let loose. They can be kids again at Rainbow Day Camp. Doctors and nurses are on staff so campers are well cared for. Siblings, who are sometimes overlooked when a brother or sister needs care, are also welcome. If you're an only child you can bring your best friend. The camp is designed to allow any child in attendance to participate, no matter what limitations they have.

                                                                                                             Photo by Josh T. Decker
Does Rainbow Day Camp really make a difference? Or is it just fun and games? Studies show that extended illness can crush a child's spirit. "There was a child in the clinic who didn't speak much," remembers camp director Lenny Kass. "He would hardly talk at all, but here at camp we literally could not keep him quiet." And it's not just the campers who are transformed. "This is soul food for our staff," says Dr. David Margolis. "Some have gone on to become medical students. Parents too find joy in seeing kids come out of their shells, living as children instead of as patients."

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