This weekend is going to be a weekend of fun for more than 100 teenagers from Texas Children’s Hospital. It’s a chance to get away from the hospital environment so they can be kids again. Houston Public Radio’s Capella Tucker reports The Periwinkle Foundation is looking to expand its camps to young adults.
17-year-old George Bember was a typical high school kid when he started having sinus infections a couple years ago. A lump then developed in his neck. After four days of whirl-wind doctors’ visits, Bember was diagnosed with a rare form of Lymphoma. His sophmore year of high school was replaced with weeklong chemo-therapy treatments. One activity that helped him be a teenager again was camps from The Periwinkle Foundation.
“We appreciate every second we have because all the kids know, they don’t take life for granted because they know it can change just like that.”
After about a half year of treatment, Bember was cured. But he still goes for check-ups and it’s changed him for the rest of his life. That’s why he’s still taking part in this weekend’s Camp YOLO, which stands for “you only live once.”
“Because I think it gives the other kids hope to look forward to. They see a person who has already survived it, so they’re like, I can do this, I can do it. And plus I like to see all my friends.”
It’s a weekend packed with fun that parents say energizes the kids. The Periwinkle Foundation Executive Director Pat Sorrells says the kids can talk about their illnesses if they want to, but that’s not the focus of the camp.
“Then they get to camp and we can get a child in a wheelchair a child with no body motion from the neck down up a climbing wall and down a zip line. And you can imagine that scream of delight as they go down that zip line for the very first time.”
This weekend’s activities are geared for teenagers. A week long summer camp is geared toward younger kids. Sorrells says they are looking to expand to have other activities for young adults.
“We have survivors, some of our very first campers, that can’t get jobs because they have cognitive issues, they couldn’t finish high school, they’re incredibly wonderful people, but they still need some kind of support system.”
Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.