Although children and teens are very unlikely to develop ALS, that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by the disease. 85% of people who do have ALS report having children or grandchildren who are directly impacted. Coping with a parent or grandparent’s ALS diagnosis is never easy, but it is especially hard for children, who don’t have the same emotional maturity as their adult counterparts. Becoming a caregiver for someone is a difficult transition to make when you’re used to having that person take care of you. And since it’s unlikely that any of a child’s friends would have experience dealing with ALS, it can leave them feeling alone, with no one to really talk to.
That’s where Hope Loves Company (HLC) comes in. Hope Loves Company is a camp for children, teens or young adults who have experienced coping with a loved one battling ALS. It gives them a chance to connect with other youths their same age who are dealing with the same issues. The camp program focuses on fun activities, while also incorporating opportunities to engage in group and peer-to-peer counseling, and teaching the kids methods they can use to cope with a loved one’s disease.
The camp truly makes a difference, as can be seen in the feedback from one camp weekend last year:
It has helped me understand that my family and I aren’t the only people going through this terrible disease and it has helped me cope with my pain and grief a lot better than before…it was also a lot of fun. – Jaiden, age 12
This weekend helped me because I finally met people who understand. – Anonymous, age 15
It gave me a chance to take a break and have fun knowing that I was with others going through the same struggle. – Anonymous, age 15
It helped me open up about myself and helped me feel better about my life. I think it would help others deal with being affected by ALS. – Abby, age 12
I made lots of new friends. More people than I thought have family members that have ALS or have loved ones that passed from ALS. People know how you feel. – Kasey, age 9
People know what I’m going through. – Justin, age 9
It was meaningful because it shows me I’m not the alone in this journey. – Anonymous, age 16
This camp was more than I could have ever asked or dreamed about. The experience was fun, emotional and beyond memorable. I was so proud to be a part of this and play a small role in not only making my kids happy but to be a chaperone and make the other boys happy and be there for them. – Steven, a parent
Camp HLC is held in multiple locations spread across the country, and it’s free to the families who attend—thanks, of course, to the generosity of donors and sponsors. At The ALS Association, we’re proud to be one sponsor of Camp HLC, and we’d like to bring this opportunity to even more children. To do so, though, we need help from people like you. Our goal is to raise $150,000 to provide 10 camps with funding, and to help families with transportation costs to and from the camps.