It is not the easiest thing in the world to paint the face of a child who has CP.
Nurse learned this the hard way.
Grand intentions of turning little Natty into Spiderman.
Then, wishful hoping that a camo-soldier look might be attainable.
Finally, in despair, a blue-purple combo that looked something like a cross between a blueberry and Ribena.
And so, our little spastic Blueberry was born.
Meanwhile, Okeno, Melanie, and I were busy transforming Yasanya into a butterfly,
Adrian into a general, Alexcia into a rainbow, and Keisha into a pink blushed flower garland.
It took some convincing, but Sasha Gay finally agreed to a floral crescent design:
Fun Day. The final day of Summer Camp at My Father’s House.
And Face Painting was just the beginning! We read and colored our final Bible story (the birth of Jesus). We used glitter ink to decorate heart shaped fans. And best of all, we made ice cream floats – Caribbean style!
With help, all of the campers were able to scoop vanilla ice cream into their cups. We let them pick between Pineapple and Kola soda. Those who were able to noisily slurped their floats through colorful straws. Those who weren’t able eagerly waited for one of us to hold a cup to their lips so they could drink.
it was the perfect way to wrap up two weeks of art, stories, songs, music, movies, and games.
When we started on a Monday, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d be meeting my assistants (Melanie, Jeneel, and Okeno) for the first time. Over half of the residents on the list I’d been given were ones I hadn’t spent any time with yet. We quickly found our groove.
Melanie, Jeneel, and Okeno were phenomenal – running with every idea Sister Cathy and I threw their way, making improvements of their own, and working hard to ensure the residents had a great time each day.
By day 3, all it took was for one of us to walk through the gate for Yasanya to start her “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Which invariable kicked off Natty’s wheelchair bound happy dance and Dwight’s huge smile.
Dervon and Brandon would look expectantly towards the exit and Alexcia would narrowly miss crashing her wheelchair into a wall as she raced towards us.
I knew about taking food, clean water, and a job for granted. But I never realized that “anticipation” could be taken for granted, too.
Having something to look forward to at the start of a new day is a common occurrence for most us (think about it).
But for many of these residents, their disabilities conspire to limit the variety in their days. That’s why getting to go outside and sit around a table and wait their turn to be helped to place a sticker, paint a picture, or roll a dice was such a big deal to them. It was something new, something out of the ordinary.
One of the campers was a young woman whose right leg is permanently bent up towards her left ear. Her left leg crosses over to the right side. Her fingers are barely able to grip anything. She can’t talk. She’s wasn’t able (verbally or physically) to get my attention, so I’d never really noticed her until Summer Camp started.
Suddenly, she was smiling when we came through the gate, when Yasanya answered the question before Adrian had a chance, when Natty accidentally on purpose knocked the paintbrushes to the floor.
One day, when I came through the gate and began making my way around the room, I heard something just behind me. I turned and realized that she was making the sound. It was low in her throat. The noise didn’t approximate syllables, let alone words. But . . . she was doing something I had assumed was impossible for her. And her eyes were sparkling.
“Are you ready for Summer Camp!?” I said.
She made the sound again, and this time, smiled BIG.