Arts camp gives sick and disabled kids a lift
'A lot of these kids really do need that confidence boost and that reminder that they can do something'
Madison Berube has lived through open-heart surgery, blood transfusions and dialysis to stop her organs from failing — all before her 13th birthday.
But at Starlight Performance Camp in Edmonton, the 12-year-old said she feels like just another kid.
Berube contracted a strep blood infection four years ago, which damaged her heart and organs. She has been in and out of the Stollery Children's Hospital ever since.
- Sore demand for bedside teachers at Stollery Children's Hospital
- U of A pharmacy students' video removes stigma from 'mental health'
- Edmonton hospital chosen for children's artificial heart program
On Saturday, she joined dozens of other children with chronic illnesses or disabilities for a free performing arts camp. Together, they learned about gymnastics, dance, cheerleading and fashion.
"This place is amazing," Berube said. "We got to make our own shirts and I'm very crafty."
Medical students from the University of Alberta hosted the day-long camp, which ended with a performance for family and friends.
"A lot of these kids feel restricted by their conditions," said Andrée Vincent, one of the organizers.
"For them it's hard to keep up with the other kids so a lot of them feel down, they feel that they can't keep up," Vincent said. "They feel secluded."
The camp offers a safe place to learn new skills and build confidence, Vincent said.
"A lot of these kids really do need that confidence boost and that reminder that they can do something, even if they're not so quick," she said. "But they can still do it because they love it."
Vincent plans to turn the camp into a long-term project, offering workshops to sick and disabled children in Edmonton every summer.