Edmonton day camp for children with disabilities, chronic illness receives funding boost

An Edmonton day camp for children with disabilities and chronic illnesses has received the funding necessary to continue in the future. 

Andrée Vincent started the one-day-only Starlight Performance Camp last summer, which provides children with disabilities and chronic illnesses between the ages of five and 14 years old with the opportunity to try gymnastics, dance, cheerleading and fashion. 

“We try to support them throughout the day, encourage them and make sure that they don’t ever feel discouraged,” Vincent told CBC News on Saturday at Ortona Gymnastics, where approximately 30 children were participating in the second edition of the event. 

Vincent, a medical student at the University of Alberta, said she worked with a friend doing a residency in pediatrics on the initiative. 

Startlight Performance Camp has received a $3,000 grant from the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, which will allow it to continue for the next five years, Vincent said. 

“It’s something that we felt isn’t quite there for kids with chronic illnesses or disabilities and we really wanted to provide that opportunity,” Vincent said.

‘I’ve always wanted to learn gymnastics’

Leukemia survivor Lalla-Rita Hachim, 11, learned a dance routine to show her parents at the end of the day. 

She said the camp is “pretty fun.”

Lalla-Rita Hachim, 11, is a Leukaemia survivor who thinks the Starlight camp is “pretty fun.” (Gabrielle Brown)

“It’s stuff that I always wanted to do,” Hachim said. “I’ve always wanted to learn gymnastics and become an athlete.” 

Shaun Hill’s daughter had a heart transplant and a double-lung transplant seven years ago. 

She attended the camp last year and was back this year. 

“When she finds out that she’s going, she gets all excited and she’s exited the whole day,” Hill said.

“For kids like her, it’s pretty good to see that they get out and have some sort of a decent childhood.”

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