A CHILD’S SMILE – Camp Jumoke Hosts Annual Christmas Party for Children Living with Sickle Cell

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BY ALYSSA MAHADEO

A smile on the face of a child, brings joy to our hearts at Christmas time. Especially those children who are sick and living with an illness or disease. Every moment is precious and the memories we make last forever bringing family and friends together in support of funding treatment and hope for a better tomorrow.

For the past three years Camp Jumoke has held an annual Christmas Party at the Bramalea Free Methodist Church in Brampton for children and their families affected by Sickle Cell Disease. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) describes a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. People with SCD have abnormal hemoglobin, where their red blood cells become hard and sticky, and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.

Camp Jumoke’s mission is to enrich the lives of children living with Sickle Cell Disease and its complications, one child at a time. Over the weekend, children living with Sickle Cell and their families were invited to come and enjoy a day of fun and games, delicious treats, face painting and most importantly meeting with Santa before he heads off to the North Pole to prepare for Christmas Eve! All of the children in attendance are afflicted with, or siblings of individuals with Sickle Cell and in hosting this Christmas party Camp Jumoke hopes to spread joy and happiness for the holiday season and allow the children a day where their lives can be a little less complicated.

Children with Sickle Cell are affected year-round by the disease. It is an inherited disease present from birth, however, most infants do not show any symptoms until about 5 to 6 months. Children with Sickle Cell can suffer from a variation of acute pain, chronic pain, anemia and various other complications throughout their lives. Pain episodes, also referred to as a crisis can be triggered by illness, changes in temperature, stress, dehydration and even changes in air pressure. During a crisis, the affected cells die early, causing a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, while travelling through small blood vessels, red blood cells can get stuck and clog the blood flow causing pain. Most times a person with Sickle Cell doesn’t know what has caused a crisis. It is particularly difficult for children and parents of children with Sickle Cell. They are more susceptible to illness and infections, and spend a lot of time in and out of the hospital.

Leading a normal life with Sickle Cell can become very challenging especially for children. It affects their mental health and ability to participate in everyday recreational activities with their friends. Camp Jumoke’s mission is to utilize education and recreation and create a path by which children living with Sickle Cell Disease can lead healthy and productive lives.

Since 1994 Camp Jumoke had provided a special place for children living with SCD to attend summer camp. For many of the families the camp is an expense they cannot afford, and so Camp Jumoke covers the cost to send each child to camp for two weeks without funding from the government (Approx. $2,200.00 per child.)

Every Christmas, Camp Jumoke brings children from across the GTA to their annual Christmas event. It is always hosted in Brampton and the Peel Police Chief and her department have been very supportive of their cause, donating gifts for the children, and attending along with officers from her force. While she was unable to make it out this year, she still sent representatives from the police department to spend time with the children, parents and volunteers of Camp Jumoke. This year gifts were donated by Cherry Skerrit and The Region of Peel Communications Team, and special thanks is extended to Natasha Morris, Georgie Porgie Cakes, Little Caesars, Charles Matthews of CMJ Entertainment and Alex McFarlane who has taken on the role of Santa for the past three years.

Camp Jumoke is managed by a volunteer board of directors and relies heavily on the generosity and commitment of their volunteers to organize all of Camp Jumoke’s business and fundraising events. For those interested in helping out their cause, you are encouraged to donate; whether it’s products or services you can offer, or your own time, every little bit counts. Each year they host three main fundraisers in an effort to continue their mission to remove any financial dilemmas that would otherwise prevent a child from attending camp. For more information on how to donate or host a fundraising event of your own to aid children living with Sickle Cell visit. http://www.jumoke.org/.

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