Camps for Children with Disabilities and Their Families
Why is camp important for parents/family and children with disabilities?
Star of Hope Romania has implemented projects for child with disabilities in 3 out of 42 counties in Romania. In these 3 counties there are 8000 children with disabilities. Many of these children do not have access to education, cultural activities or even an area in which to play. This situation is more prevalent for children in the more rural and impoverished areas. The children are not actively involved in the community life. They, and their parents, are not fully involved in the decision making process with regard to treatment/care for children with disabilities.
Sam is just one of many who get more out of life thanks to the work in Romania.
For the children with moderate and severe disabilities, the personal assistant, which is usually a parent, must look after the child 24 hours per day 7 days each week, with no spare time or vacation. This becomes overwhelming for the parents, especially the mothers, who are more directly involved in child's rehabilitation process as the fathers are out of the home with their employment. No matter the financial status of the family, We see very few fathers that are involved in the rehabilitation process. The mere fact that a child is disabled places stress on, not only the family, but also the parent's relationship. The potential for divorce and/or separation is greatly increased.. That is why it is important to offer opportunity for both parents to spend time together, to learn to communicate better, to understand each other's expectations, needs and requirements of the child.
The children with special needs generally have poor health conditions. For example, the Down's syndrome children have different and often complicated medical problems. A disabled child usually gets sick quicker than non-disabled. They need treatment at the mountain, sea side or other preferred climates.. The counties where the projects have been implemented (Iasi, Vaslui and Botosani) are the poorest part of the country. Unemployment as well as child mortality rates are among the highest in the country. Because of this economic situation, most of the families with disabled children have no possibility to escape to the favored/therapeutic climate. Especially for parents from rural area, it is possible that they will never go to a camp or enjoy a holiday.
The absence of children's involvement in community life is also a result of the discriminative attitude shown by many members of the local community. The biggest reason for this attitude is the lack of information regarding disabilities and it is the reason that many parents do not go outside with their disabled child.
a. Improve the health conditions for disabled children;
In Romania, doctors advise all parents to take their children to the sea side at least once each year. The belief is that this therapy will improve the lungs, increase immunity to influenza and help the bones more easily assimilate the calcium. Most of the parents that are included in our projects want to follow these advices, but the financial condition represents an obstacle.
b. Build up the role of the family in the process of raising the child in good health;
In this project, all the parents will be trained in areas like: medicine, nutrition and legislation. This is a long term objective. The effects will be noticed in time.
c. Offer spiritual counseling to parents that have children with disabilities
Star of Hope Romania workers have included the camp experience in rehabilitation program for all disabled children. That makes it easier for them to maintain the relation with the children and to follow-up the effects of the camp.
We will also keep in touch with the parents because all of them are either members of associations or members of support groups.