Volunteering at Camp Trailblazers this past summer has been like finding my long-lost family. As a child with lymphangioma hemangioma, I was in and out of SickKids Hospital for multiple surgeries and emergencies. I wasn’t allowed out for recess or to take part in physical activity because of the risk of facial injury. In spite of precautions, I injured myself a lot – I had a habit of breaking my falls with my face.
Today I have grown to love being active while also being cautious to protect myself from injury. In particular, I love to rock-climb, hike, and cycle. And as a high school teacher, I have a special opportunity to teach kids about embracing our differences and being kind to one another.
It moves my spirit to spend time with the teens at Camp Trailblazers. I want to let them know that as a person with a facial difference, it took me a while to own my story – but learning how to be our authentic selves is incredibly rewarding.
Picture: Bernadette (left) with volunteer, Karen, and camper, Megan.