It was six years ago when Carol received the news. Her daughter, Chloe was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury. She was two.
“Everybody talks about how critical those beginning years are, but we were just brushed aside because she was healthy,” said Carol. But even as a first-time mother, Carol knew in her gut, “Something wasn’t right. I knew babies figure these things out on their own. Babies learn to sit, they learn to crawl, and none of those things were happening. Chloe couldn’t sit or hold her head up.”
Chloe had been born with a spinal cord injury. “When we finally received a diagnosis, it knocked the wind out of us for a while,” Carol said solemnly. “To raise a child, it takes a village, but to raise a child with a physical disability that no one has answers for, it’s like driving down a road and having no idea where you are going.”
This put Carol and Clint on the path towards Easter Seals. “There are organizations out there that are willing to help such as Easter Seals. They are supportive and have services that you need for your child that are critical,” said Carol.
One such service has been transformative for Chloe — Easter Seals camp.
When Chloe turned five, Carol and Clint took her to Easter Seals Family Camp. After two days, Chloe knew she would want to come back. As Carol recalls, “Being at camp opened her eyes. She met kids just like her, who even had the same power wheelchair and they all were able to participate in activities designed for them.”
As Carol recalls, “During her time at camp, Chloe became more confident. She loved the big swing, going around the campfire, singing and being with her friends. She even became a swimming superstar, earning a badge for swimming that the counsellors made just for her.”
“Camp is a place where everyone understands, and you can let your guard down. There are no judgments, and there is a great sense of community,” said Carol. “It was a chance for us to meet other parents who had children with physical disabilities too. After it soaks in that all these wonderful people are here to help you, it’s like you’re in heaven.”
In 2018, Chloe went to Easter Seals camp alone. Emotionally, for a parent, who fears “caregiver burnout” as Carol said, “It is a huge weight off your shoulders knowing that Chloe wants to be there, and the experience is going to carry with her through her whole life.”
“Camp grew Chloe’s independence,” added Carol, but even more so, “She learned there other people who can help her besides mom and dad and that there are activities she can do. Just because she does it a bit differently, it’s no big deal. You can’t put a price on that.”