I talk a lot about what it’s like to be a caregiver. It is often described as something most of us take on out of love but find ourselves thrusted unexpectedly in a world that is challenging, exhausting both mentally and physically, and one of the hardest jobs ever done.
Now can you imagine being both a caregiver and a child?
Many children are the primary caregivers for their family member. That means that besides just trying to grow up, go to school and learn, and do homework they must also be their loved ones hands and feet; preparing meals, arranging for transportation and doctors’ visits. Many miss school or are unable to participate in outside activities because of the demands of caregiving.
There are two organizations which I think help make life better for the youths that are dealing with medical adversity in their family and I would like to show case them here in today’s blog.
The first is near and dear to me because it originated in Boca Raton, Florida where I lived for 40 years. And because I was a caregiving youth at a time when there was no such term, I know first-hand what living amidst the medical mayhem can be like.
The American Association of Caregiving Youth https://www.aacy.org/p/2#.XllzhqhKhPY .
WHAT THEY DO:
The AACY is a non-profit established in 1998 and is the only organization in the US dedicated solely to addressing caregiving youth issues. Its vision is to help every youth caring for a chronically ill, injured, elderly or disabled family member to achieve success in school and life.
HOW THEY DO IT:
Provide support services for youth caregivers and their families by connecting them with healthcare, education and community resources. If you are or know a young person who is the primary caregiver for a loved one please, please tell them about this wonderful program and resource.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Consider becoming an Advocate for Caring Youth
- Arrange for a presentation about youth caregiving (congregation, service clubs, circle of friends, professional group)
- Be a Volunteer
- Build Awareness of AACY
- Make a Donation
- Sponsor an event
WHAT THEY DO:
The second program is new to me but goes hand in hand with AACY. It is Camp Kesem. Kesem is a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. Kesem is the largest national organization dedicated to supporting children impacted by a parent’s cancer, at no cost to families. Innovative and fun-filled programs provide children with peers who understand their unique needs, and create long-lasting impact.
HOW THEY DO IT:
The true power of Kesem comes from empowering passionate college student volunteers to become leaders in their own local communities. They proudly continue to invest in training, support, and leadership development opportunities for student leaders, as they prepare to provide life-changing experiences for families nationwide. There are 125 chapters in 44 states, 5 of which are in Florida, located at University of Miami, USF< FSU, UF and Florida Gulf Coast.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Set up an event such as a local 5K, Intramural Leagues, or even a Charity Bar Crawl.
- Introduce Camp Kesem to your workplace or service organization.
- Provide services at one of the Camp Kesem locations, i.e. doctors, nurses, mental health professional who like kids can find this so much fun and rewarding.
- If you are a student, consider finding a friend to spend a week or two at Camp Kesem – not only will you be giving back but what you will receive is priceless.
Both these organizations make a difference not only in the current lives of these youth but in their futures. If you are like me and have known what it’s like to be a youth caregiver or you have a heart for the young consider becoming involved. Consider using your social media to share this information as well as anytime you make a purchase on Amazon, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Home Depot choose to donate to these causes.
Each of us can make a difference – won’t you make a difference in a young person’s life today?
Special thank you’s to Laurel Leary with Camp Kesem and Connie Siskowski, President and Founder of American Association of Caregiving Youth. You make the world a better place.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.