Your Help is Needed
Just as the needs of children are great, so too are the opportunities for you to help. Please consider making a gift to support one of the projects featured below or to any of our programs that benefit children and families.
A Summer Camp for Children Affected by HIV
Donations to Project Challenge’s Summer Camp Help Give Affected Kids a Place to Belong.
Project Challenge’s Summer Camp is an innovative mid-winter and summer camp program offered free of charge to children from metropolitan Detroit who are affected by HIV and AIDS. This annual Summer Camp provides constructive therapeutic activities for children and youth when they have the most unstructured and unsupervised leisure time—during school vacation. Activities are geared towards promoting a healthy lifestyle, encouraging self-esteem and leadership, and reducing risky behaviors, all while having fun and just being just kids. The camper population includes children born with the HIV virus as well as those children who have an HIV+ parent or sibling.
At Summer Camp, no one thinks twice when kids line up to in the afternoon to take their medicine. And no one pulls away or calls them names because they are HIV-infected or live with someone who is. In a supportive environment free from HIV-related stigma, Summer Camp participants engage in prevention programming aimed at improving social functioning and decreasing risk behaviors, therapeutic recreation, and an opportunity for work experience.
Younger campers (ages 5–10) attend sessions designed to promote friendship skills, coping methods, and self-esteem. The sessions offered to older campers (ages 11-16) are focused on coping with the stigma of HIV, promoting healthy choices and behaviors, and life skills training. The Summer Camp Counselor-in-Training Program allows an opportunity for HIV-infected adolescents to gain essential job skills including writing a resume, participating in a job interview, and working under the close supervision of lead counselors and camp directors. In addition to weekly educational sessions, campers are able to participate in hands-on activities at the on-site location as well as visit a variety of recreational sites around metropolitan Detroit.
Evaluation of camp participants shows improved life skills and social development resulting from the camp experience, and most parents report a change in attitude and behavior in their children. Campers have noted such things as:
- “(I like) talking to people who understand and are like me”
- “I like the education it provides to keep me safe and healthy”
- “(I like) making friends outside school, having something fun to do in summer, and learning new things.”
Summer Camp is a component of Project Challenge, a multi-disciplinary approach to care which provides children and adolescents ages 5 to 16 with mental health services, social work services, support groups, and prevention programming. Approximately 150 to 200 children attend camp each year. Created in 1998 by the pediatric HIV clinical psychologist and a social worker from Children’s Hospital, Project Challenge is the only program in the Detroit area that includes a camp experience for children affected by HIV. Children’s Hospital is also home to the only pediatric HIV clinic in metropolitan Detroit.
A Way to Be Healthy for Newly Arrived Students
Donations to the Hamtramck School-Based Health Center Help New Students Receive Healthcare
Imagine for a moment that you and your family have left the United States because you are living in poverty with few hopes of changing your situation and you move to a country far across the world. Imagine you become ill or have a chronic disease but in your new country the only clinics that will see you are a complicated car or bus ride away with limited appointments and no one who understands you. Such is the plight of many immigrant families arriving in Hamtramck.
The Hamtramck School Based Health Center (HSBHC) assists these children and families by cutting down barriers to health care and by reaching out to those who have recently arrived from other countries with little or no resources. The HSBHC—a collaboration between Hamtramck Public Schools and Children’s Hospital of Michigan—has been serving the students and families of the Hamtramck Public School District since 2000. Staffed by a nurse practitioner, medical assistant, and social worker with oversight from a pediatrician, the clinic is a critical source of care for those with barriers to health care access—most especially students who are new immigrants and the uninsured.
Newly arrived students and their families haven’t lived in the United States long enough to qualify for healthcare assistance. Even though the majority of parents are employed, they work in positions where family health insurance is not offered or is prohibitively expensive.
For the last 12 years, these families have at least been able to obtain basic medical care, including immunizations, physical exams, and assistance with acute medical problems by attending the HSBHC.
Every day, the HSBHC welcomes those who have nowhere else to go:
- a family arrives with their four year-old daughter for a physical so she can attend Head Start, but she also has uncontrolled asthma and needs medication.
- a family walks in with three children who have just arrived from Bangladesh, who are in need of immunizations and screening for tuberculosis since they come from a high-risk region of the world.
- a family with a child with a chronic seizure disorder, newly arrived from Yemen, needs assistance in getting in to see a specialist.
School based health centers are a cost-effective way to decrease barriers to obtaining health care, decrease student absences, increase academic achievement and strengthen support services for ‘at risk’ youth and those with special health care needs. The HSBHC benefits the community at large—decreasing costly emergency room visits, detecting illness early and reducing later, more costly treatment, decreasing parental absences and keeping children in school, out of trouble and on the way to becoming productive members of the community.
If we are able to reach out and help children living in poverty, often coming from other countries, just as our forefathers did, we make the community and the world a stronger, safer, and better place.