“IT FELT JUST LIKE CAMP WAS STILL HAPPENING!”
When Charlotte’s brother Alex was just two years old, he was initially diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and then re-diagnosed at age six with a rare genetic condition, known as Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, (HSP). HSP affects Alex’s gross and fine motor skills impacting his mobility due to a weakness and tightness (spasticity) in his legs.
As a result, movement has become increasingly difficult for Alex, and now at the age of 15, he requires a wheelchair, having recently undergone scoliosis surgery. To help her parents with the added pressures of caring for Alex, Charlotte has always been more than willing to do whatever she can to help.
Support through the years
Charlotte, now 13, explains, “I try my hardest to support my parents with Alex. I also really enjoy caring for him. At the moment, he can’t stand up, which sometimes frustrates him. I remember when he was at school, his friends would play football, and he would watch at the side lines, which I think he found hard. He is very positive though- he knows his life is difficult, but he doesn’t let that get in the way.”
“I love making him laugh and smile. But ever since I was born, my mum and dad have always wanted to make sure that I also had time for myself. They always wanted me to get outside and do other things too. Which is why Over The Wall camps have been so great.”
Charlotte has now attended Over The Wall’s residential camps for siblings three times and has most recently attended Camp in the Cloud- the virtual online camp Over The Wall created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Going to camp was always the highlight of my year.” says Charlotte, “So, it was really hard when camps were cancelled. I had always looked forward to seeing the friends I had made the year before- which have been tons over the years!”
Siblings Camp in the Cloud
“I don’t know how Over The Wall did it, but even though I wasn’t at camp, I could still see everyone on the screen- and with the activities, challenges and everything, it felt just like camp was still happening.” said Charlotte. “It was so nice to see familiar faces and friends, and to look at the things everyone had made during the challenges. The activities were so fun, I really enjoyed trying new things, and sharing them online with everyone.”
“Camp in the Cloud was something nice to get away to. I met new people and we even shared numbers later. I had met one friend at residential camp and luckily, Camp in the Cloud allowed us to get back in contact.”
“It’s great meeting others with siblings who have health challenges. You sort of know they are going through the same things as you, and they understand everything. Sometimes when I talk to friends, they don’t really get it. If I’m away from school and they ask, ‘where have you been?’ and I say in hospital with Alex- it’s hard for them to understand.”
Finding forever friends
“My friends from sibling camp know that we are all going through the same things, even though we might not to discuss the details- as we don’t have to. You know that whatever they are going through you could probably help them- it’s just nice knowing that someone else in the world is going through similar things, and that you can speak to them if you needed to.”
“In the past, whenever camp has ended, I’ve cried- and when it comes back around it’s the greatest thing in the world. Camp in the Cloud felt amazing when it came back around again, just like camp. Getting those packages in the post, and waiting for the day you can open them, and see everyone, and do all the activities – it’s just the best.”