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EMPOWERING SURVIVORS TO EDUCATE OTHERS

By Kayla Giacin
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Group of YA survivors at Camp Mak-a-Dream
Group of YA survivors at Camp Mak-a-Dream

Having been involved with the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation and the brain tumor community for a number of years, a common theme that I see over and over again is the notion of giving back.  It comes from parents and caregivers, relatives and friends and course from the survivors themselves.  Of course, having a brain tumor is not something many people would think of as something any one  would be grateful for. H,owever having sucessful treatments and being able to live life, although many times under different and more challenging circumstances, are reasons that survivors and their loved ones become passionate about giving back to the community that helped them to succeed.

Recently, the young adult brain tumor survivors that attended the Heads Up Conference (HUC) at Camp Mak-a-Dream in Gold Creek, Montana had an opportunity to do this all while enjoying  having fun bonding with other survivors and while exploring our creative sides.  Resident and movie director of Bitterroot, Montana John Williams, spent two days at Camp-Mak-a-Dream  to  lend his expertise while the camp participants took the lead in creating public service announcements about brain tumors.  These PSA’s were created with the intention of telling others something about brain tumors or life challenges related to having one that the public might not already know.  The six groups created PSA’s that covered many topics such as bullying, dispelling myths about living life with a brain tumor and positive takes on what a diagnosis can mean to some one.  Some of the PSA’s were humorous and some were more dramatic but they all took many different talents to create including writing, acting, directing and film editing and producing.

To me, this project was a perfect way to combine many things that we strive for with Camp-Mak-a-Dream and the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.  It was fun for us as the survivors, it was used as a tool to educate the public as a way of giving back and it used our many talents all while challenging us to think outside the box  and go beyond what others (and sometimes ourselves!) think we can accomplish.  This sense of empowerment is a core part of HUC and is a feeling we can take with us and now we can also share with others.

To check out these fantastic PSA's, go to: www.youtube.com/user/campmakadream

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