When I started this site, it was really a way to share stories with families and friends. It was also therapeutic. I had a space to express how I felt as I juggled with the feelings of joy for having a sweet newborn baby and the sadness for knowing how my culture reacts to a child born “different.” But one of the best things I did with the help of this site and a couple of online groups was find opportunities to meet families. In 2006, the best ways I had to meet people was through I-CAN (International Child Amputee Network) and Sammy’s Friends.
There are so many more places to network and talk since then, but Sammy’s Friends has been a core group for me. There’s so much support and kindness there. Thanks to my relationships online, I was able to meet people in person during the summer of 2006. We met a little girl (who is much taller these days) who has a little arm above the elbow like Jordan. She lives in a county not too far away from us and her dad made sure we could meet up. The most powerful moment of that visit during lunch was watching her color at the table. She held the paper with her little arm with such ease. It was so great to have that little ‘aha’ moment knowing that Jordan would figure it all out. Jordan proved that to me as she accomplished every milestone… often in her own way. But it was comforting to know there are other kids and they’re doing great by just watching them in person.
That’s why in the summer of 2007, we attended the Helping Hands summer meetup. We spent two days playing and talking and enjoying each other’s company while Jordan was only 18 months old. She was cute, she was so comfortable around everyone and we had so much fun. It was eye opening for her brother as well to recognize how there are all kinds of other kids just like his sister (he was 5 years old at the time).
In 2009 we started attending Camp No Limits. The camp opened up a session in Missouri. There are also camps in California, Idaho, Florida, Maryland and the big camp is in Maine. It’s been one of the best experiences for the kids and I (unfortunately Randy has had to work the last couple of years). It’s so wonderful for families to spend time together to play, talk and learn. The limb different kids learn the importance of pilates – the reasoning behind it. (When you may be physically off balance, you are a much stronger and healthier person if your core is strong.)
Thanks to this website, I’ve had additional opportunities to meet up with families across the country. It seems everywhere we go, there’s a wonderful family that wants to meet and chat. It’s wonderful. I feel blessed. I’m not kidding when I think everyone gets a lot out of our meetups except Jordan. She is so accustomed to seeing kids and adults with limb differences. It’s just a way of life.
I’m not complaining. I just think it’s fascinating.
If you haven’t had a chance to meet limb difference families in person. I highly recommend finding a camp or organize a meetup in your area through on of the many groups online. I’m amazed by the growing number of pages on Facebook where people are connecting and sharing. Every time I find one, I add it to the Born Just Right Facebook page’s favorites link. If you think you can’t afford it, don’t be shy asking to see if there are scholarship opportunities. I use a county program that helps pay for our time at camp. It’s worth asking for help to give the amazing experience to my family.
Here are some other summer camps/events you might want to check out:
Helping Hands – They have a summer event in July
Hands to Love Hand Camp
I-CAN annual conference – This year it’s in Cleveland, Ohio
Amputee Coalition of America Youth Camp
Amputee Coalition of America National Conference – It’s in June and I’m planning on attending with Jordan
Colorado UnLimbited – BJR fan Ria Hurst wanted to share this group. You can keep up with meetups here.
Pikes Peak Amputee Connection – Another tip from Ria. Click here to check out the meetup page.
Other groups worth checking out:
Challenged Athletes Foundation – They have amazing events. If there’s one near you, you should check it out.
DASA – Disabled Athlete Sports Association – This is a group based in St. Louis and they’re holding a day-long sports event for special needs kids in my town next month. We’re totally checking that out.
Empowering Amputees – This is an online group and there is a limb difference group for families.
Please let me know if I missed anything. If there’s a group or a meet up that you attend and would like more families to join in, please let me know!