How the Rotary Youth Camp Changed the Life of a Girl with Cerebral Palsy

(Note: This story is based on an actual camper’s experience. The camper’s name has been changed.)

Diane always felt separated from her peers in school because of her cerebral palsy. It confined her to a wheelchair from a very young age and made life extremely difficult in ways that most people couldn’t understand. The worst part was how socially isolated she felt because she was the only person in her school with this condition.

As a result, she often had to deal with feelings of depression and loneliness even when surrounded by her able-bodied friends. None of them had to experience the problems she faced, and sometimes people could be insensitive in how they treated her. This always hurt her feelings whether they meant to be rude or not.

More than anything, Diane just wanted to feel like she wasn’t so different than everybody else. However, she resigned herself to the belief that she would always feel different because there’s no cure for cerebral palsy.

One day, Diane’s mother heard about the Rotary Youth Camp. It provides opportunities for children with developmental disorders like Diane’s to have normal camping experiences together. Diane signed up to participate in a camping session that summer and it was one of the best choices she ever made.

Diane was amazed when she first arrived at the Camp. For the first time in her entire life, she was surrounded by kids who had cerebral palsy and other conditions like hers. No longer was she different than anybody else; she was just another girl who was there to play.

During the camp, Diane had more fun than she’d ever experienced in her entire life. She made incredible friends with whom she laughed and had adventures in a safe and welcoming environment at the Camp. The time flew by, and she felt an enormously positive change occur within herself.

She returned the next summer and every summer thereafter until it was time for her to go to college. After that, she began coming back to serve as a Camp counselor to other young women with disabilities like hers. She made lifelong connections with people who looked and felt like her, and created a special bond with them that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.

Your donations to Greater Kansas City Day make it possible for girls like Diane to have awesome experiences at the Rotary Youth Camp every year. Click the “Donate” button to donate any amount.