Giving kids a break

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July 21, 2016 12:00 AM

The MS Kids Camp gives children with family members affected by the disease an opportunity to learn more about it through games and play. This year the camp runs from Aug. 2 to 5 and is free of charge.

Having family members with Multiple Sclerosis is never easy and can often lead to children of those affected taking on responsibilities at a young age.
That can have them growing up too fast and missing out on aspects of their childhood.
The Lloydminster chapter of the MS Society is holding a kids’ camp for that reason—to help children with family members suffering from the disease learn more about it and connect with others in the same situation.
“Our 2016 annual MS Kids Camp is set to take place Aug.  2 to 5 this year, so it’s a day camp that offers children ages four to 12 who have a connection to MS, either a parent or family member living with the disease, an opportunity to come together with peers who are living with the same realities,” said Johanna Green, Lakeland regional director for the MS Society of Canada.
“Our camp offers them morning education opportunities to teach the children a little more about MS in a format that is not intimidating, that uses crafts and games as a means of translating information to them about MS and the challenges it might pose in their lives.”
Green said the camp also gives children the tools they need in terms of how to better cope with symptoms loved ones could be experiencing while they deal with the disease in their families.
The event also has afternoon field trips to places like the petting zoo, swimming pool and A Bit Extreme as a way to allow the children who might have parents that, because of their symptoms, can’t easily take them places because of mobility issues.
There are also educational activities that’ll take place like MS Jeopardy and Minute-to-Win-It highlighting MS Symptoms so the children can learn more about the disease through play.
“We teach them coping skills and also just provide them with an opportunity to learn a bit more about the disease with an aim of taking away the fear that might come with a family member’s diagnosis of MS and replace it with knowledge and empowerment to position them and their family to feel better able to deal with MS in their lives,” said Green.
Because of the mobility challenges and severe fatigue that MS can cause in a parent’s life, a child can, in essence, become a first level caregiver for the parent affected.
Green said that child may have to help more readily and frequently with household duties than other children their age and that could limit the child’s ability to have normal experiences and be an active member of the community.
“Typically, a child who has a parent living with MS is faced with the reality of growing up much faster than any child should,” she said.
And because MS can be an expensive disease to live with, the MS Kids Camp is offered free of charge.
It comes as one of the various programs and services offered by the Lloydminster chapter as a way of making sure it can enhance the quality of life of people impacted by the disease.
“We certainly don’t want to add to that cost and the camp is made possible through the dedicated efforts of people throughout the community who support not only the camp, but our various activities through their generosity and sponsorship and fundraising throughout the course of the year,” said Green.
For more information or to register for the MS Kids Camp, call Patty at 780-871-0513.

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