" I knew if I could just hang on till camp started and I saw everyone again, I’d be OK.”
*Natalie was just six years old when she attended her first Camp Freedom. And as a graduate, she’s gone on to volunteer for the last 14.
Natalie knows first hand the relief of finally finding friends that understand how Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) makes you feel - because they have it too.
“As a teenager, I would have been a lot more depressed without camp to look forward to. Camp represented the end of a cycle to me. I knew if I could just hang on till camp started and I saw everyone again, I’d be OK.”
And now, as a camp leader nothing brings her greater joy than seeing a child grow through their camp experience from year to year.
“I know kids who weren’t doing well at school, or not even going to class because of pain, go on to finish Year 12 because of camp. Spending time with other kids like them, they learn how others cope and often realise things could be so much worse. It seems to flick a switch to help them get on with life!”
Camp Freedom opens a young person’s eyes to possibility. They learn that their arthritis doesn’t define who their are or set limitations on their future. In fact, Natalie says hearing counsellors talk about study and their own jobs opened her eyes and inspired her to become a teacher!
Children and teenagers with arthritis miss out on so much. Western Australia’s only camp for JIA shouldn’t be one of them!
Your help would be so appreciated....
Your gift will help us to provide understanding, support and life-changing experiences to help children face arthritis head on and live life to the full.
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