Gilda's Club Kids Support

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by Jennifer Tomazic

FREDONIA -- Camp has a way of making kids feel special.

Whether it's silly songs, games, or being recognized for being the best at something, no kid leaves summer camp feeling bad. And that's even more the case for a group attending JCC Rainbow Daycamp in Fredonia from July 30 to August 3.

The group is from Gilda's Club Kids Support program. The program is a peer support group for any child whose family (or friends) are dealing with cancer.

The kids, age 5 to 12, learn about the disease, how to talk about it, and how to deal with it "and we do these things by doing activities like storytelling, ice breakers, art activities, games and its just a really fun time," said Justine Murray, Program Coordinator with Gilda's Club.

The week at camp is the most fun for Murray, and the kids, because they get a chance to get away from the stress of every day life but they still have their Kids Support lessons and talk time.

"Its safe to know they're not going to talk about anything you say because they're going through the same thing you are and you're in a safe environment and no criticism," said Tremaine Hawthorne.

Hawthorne has been with Gilda's Club since he was nine and found out his mom had breast cancer. She's doing better and so is he, thanks to the opportunities he's had with Kids Support. Now that he's a little older than the target age, he's become a mentor for the younger kids.

"I get to tell them things but they actually tell me something new everyday so I feel like I'm not mentoring them, they're mentoring me," said Hawthorne.

It's that type of effortless communication that makes Kids Support work. All services are free for kids dealing with cancer in their families and there are still spaces available for kids to go to camp from July 30 to August 3. For more information, log onto http://www.gildasclubsewi.org/

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