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By Stacia
Friday, August 20, 2010
I just returned from a week at the Heads Up Conference, at Camp Mak-a-Dream in Gold Creek, MT. The conference brings young adult brain tumor survivors from across the country together for education, support and community building. The group varies in where they come from, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, physical abilities, cognitive challenges and much more. What they have in common is surviving a brain tumor as a child or adolescent.
When working with late teens and early twenty somethings who are strangers to each other and sharing community living space, you expect concern around very superficial things, not the most in-depth conversations, and some segregation and cliques. This is not the case when you get to work with this group.
This group of individuals found commonality in their experience and interactions with the rest of the world. They were years more mature than their chronological age. They supported each other physically and emotionally. They challenged each other to reach outside of their comfort zone in peer relationships and in physical tasks. They climbed walls and hills they never thought they could. They openly discussed work, school and life challenges and gave each other support and practical advice on overcoming them.
Many participants stated they had formed a second family here and felt they fit in immediately. This group provided inspiration to each other and even more so to the professionals and volunteers who were there.
What they have in common is the power to provide change, inspiration and support for each other and all those around them. Never underestimate the power of community. Special thank you to the young adult mentors and professionals and amazing Camp Mak-a-Dream staff. And a huge thank you to all the participants and their families. Look for pictures in the near future.

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