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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Camp Hope benefits children of addicted parents

Monday, July 25, 2011

Recently, three Cherokee County children were sponsored to attend a week long camp: Camp Hope.

The Cherokee County Legacy Foundation made it possible for two Cherokee County children to attend a camp for children of alcoholics and/or addicts, and the Cherokee Planning Council/Decategorization sponsored one Cherokee County child.

The purpose of the camp is to help these children understand the disease of addiction their parents are facing, to meet other children in a similar situation--to show that they are not alone, and to help these children find their voice to identify their feelings, emotions, and experience that they endure.

The Cherokee County Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit organization, established to meet the current and future needs of our local communities. Since its establishment in 2004, the Cherokee County Legacy Foundation has awarded over $440,000 in grants to 81 projects undertaken by county organizations and charities.

The awards came by way of the County Endowment Fund, which was established in HF 2302 in the 2004 Legislative Session. The purpose of this legislation is to provide financial support to encourage the creation and development of community foundations and civic philanthropy throughout Iowa.

The Cherokee Planning Council/ Decategorization seeks to provide community programs reach out to families in need to assistance and support. Decategorization was initially developed in response to: the growing number of children in foster care, the need to increase emphasis on early intervention and prevention services, community values which support the reality that most families, even dysfunctional ones, do a better job of raising children than the government, and the recognition that local jurisdictions are much more in touch with the needs of their children and families and have the capability to respond quicker and more appropriately than state bureaucracy. (IowaCommunityPartners.org).

Camp Hope is more than a "learning environment," it also gives children the chance to be children and experience a "camp environment." Each child has the opportunity to spend the afternoon climbing the rock wall, racing down the water slides, playing miniature golf, speeding down the zip line, as well as a variety of other activities.

Camp Hope was seen as a need in our community, as there are no programs to address the issues that personally address the complexities of a drug affected child. There are children in our neighborhoods who may not have a positive role model to look up to. For children in a drug affected environment, "the single most important component for their healthy development is the presence of an enduring healthy adult care-giving relationship" (Neurons and Neighborhoods, Shonkoff and Phillips, 2000). By encouraging children to seek a positive role model, we hope to change a negative trajectory, if that child were to continue a multi-generational cycle of substance abuse. Children of addicted parents are the highest risk group of children to become alcohol and drug abusers themselves. To begin the conversation at an early age will help children see that they can take a different path.

Each child needs to know that they have an adult they can trust to promote a positive trajectory. We need to turn to our community to build the resiliency of our children, which can come in the form of the following avenues: children's advocacy center, counselor, social worker, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), PTA/PTSA Group, DARE Group, elderly, and faith-based community. We can come together as a community to serve as role models for our future community members.

Following the conclusion of Camp Hope, we hope to provide a meeting each month for the entire family, including the children who attended Camp Hope, to allow the family to continue working towards the understanding that addiction is a family disease. We will continue to address the needs of the children, while incorporating fun activities.

Camp Hope looks forward to sharing personal testimonials from the Cherokee County children who attended Camp Hope, which was made possible by the awards from the Cherokee County Legacy Foundation and the Cherokee Planning Council/Decategorization. Thank you for your support of Camp Hope!

If you are interested in more information, please contact Ashley Christensen (712) 560-2630.

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