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By Stacia Wagner
Sunday, July 4, 2010

At CBTF's and Camp Mak-a-Dream’s first Teen Heads Up Conference, teenagers from across the country spent two days organizing and working on volunteer projects for a variety of populations. This pilot program proved to be more rewarding and inspirational than any of us could have hoped for.

The first group cooked a full hot meal and organized a clothing room for a homeless shelter. When I checked in with the group, they were elbow deep in potato salad, laughing and working as a team that had been together for years. Last night they commented on how great it felt to have people saying “thank you” to them.

Another group created an art project to do with a group of children. While visiting their group, I saw children looking up to the teens with huge eyes and so much admiration. The children did not notice any physical challenges the teens may have had. Although the children wore them out, they walked away feeling as if, like the brain tumor community, these children faced challenges and need support.

The final group practiced and performed a drum circle for a senior citizen center. Upon arrival several teens introduced themselves to the seniors and shook their hands. They went well beyond the volunteer role we had created for them.

If you would have told me a group of teens could come together and despite potential physical, cognitive or emotional challenges, in only two days prepare and implement three different volunteer projects without a hitch, in a positive and inspirational manner, I probably would have had many expectations. However, not only did they do it, they moved me to tears and reinforced my belief in the strength of brain tumor survivors. This is an amazing group of teens who will defiantly be leaders in our future.

Sorry about the lack of pictures, but I am having trouble downloading them. They will be here. Happy Fourth of July to all.

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