Smiles all around

Danette Dooley
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Camp gives special kids and average great time

Tara Evoy loved her time at Camp Trailblazers, the activities and the people she met there. Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

"They got a lot of nice doctors at the Janeway," says 10-year-old Tara Evoy.
She should know.
A Grade 5 student at Virginia Park Elementary, Tara has made many trips to the Janeway since she was born with a cleft palate.
"Dr. (Geoff) Smith and Dr. (David) Jewer have been my doctors for a long time," Tara says.
Her mother, Renee, says it was Jewer who told the family about a special camp for children with facial differences.
Renee says while Tara was enthusiastic, she and her husband, Gerry, weren't sure if their daughter was ready to take the big step of being away from them and her six-year-old sister, Cassie.
"I was iffy on whether or not she'd go, because she's so quiet and shy, but she was all go for it," Renee said.
Janine Hubbard, a psychologist and member of the Janeway's cleft lip and palate/craniofacial team, attended Camp Trailblazers with Tara and 11 other children ages 10 to 15, Oct. 2-5 at Circle Square Ranch in C.B.S.
The young campers were from all across the province, and most have cleft lips and/or palates.
Camp Trailblazers is an initiative of AboutFace, a Toronto-based organization that supports, encourages and empowers children with facial differences.
"The camp is an opportunity for these kids to meet other kids who look a little bit more like them and who know what it's like to look different than anybody else around you," Hubbard explained, adding that many of those children lack self-confidence, self-esteem and social skills.
"Some struggle when it comes to taking on leadership skills, so to be in a place where they are encouraged to do that - in a really safe and positive environment - it was fabulous for them."
Tara has had five surgeries to repair her cleft palate.
"She had her first one at three months, the next one at a year," her mother said. "Then she had one when she was in Grade 2 and she had two more within the last year."
Two of the operations involved taking bone from Tara's hip and grafting it to her face.
Renee said Tara bounces back pretty quickly and is proud of her speedy recoveries.
"There was me and another little girl in the room and she had a bone graft done, too," Tara said.
"The first day I was sleeping through most of it, the second day I got up and the third day I walked around a little bit."
Her face brightens when she's asked about Camp Trailblazers.
"We took horse lessons and we went horseback riding and we learned all the tricks to do with the horse, and we also went rock climbing and we went for a hike," Tara said.
"In the nighttime we had our snack and we played some games to get to know each other. And then we'd go back to our cabins and we'd stay up for awhile. And then we went to sleep."
Tara's favourite activities were the group bonfire, a scavenger hunt and the horseback riding.
"And one night we stayed up till one o'clock playing truth or dare," she confides, almost in a whisper.
This was the first year Camp Trailblazers was offered in this province, and Tara hopes it won't be the last.
"Children who get to go to this camp get to express their feelings about their face and then they'll know they're not the only ones different and that they're just like everyone else," she explained.
For more information on Camp Trailblazers, visit www.aboutface.ca or call 1-800-665-3223. Janine Hubbard can be reached at 777-4814.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Grade 5, Virginia Park Elementary

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Recent comments

  • JD
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Tara, you are a very pretty girl!

  • Rebecca
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Tara you are a lovely little girl! I hope Camp Trailblazers is able to continues here. I wish Tara all the best for the future!

  • Tammy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Tara was a student of mine a Virginia Park last year. She is a wonderful little girl, shy and quiet but so friendly and sweet, an absolute joy to know. I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the camp Tara and I really hope you get to do it again. Ms. Hynes is thinking of you - say Hi to your mom and all the gang at Virigina Park for me!

  • Julia
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Tara is a truly beautiful child on the outside, and I am sure by looking at her, she is just as beautiful on the inside too!

    I hope Camp Trailblazers is here to stay. We live in a cruel world and these wonderful children need to know and be reassured sometimes that they truly are beautiful!

    Good luck with your future surgeries Tara and I wish you a speedy recovery after each and every one of them!

  • Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    God Bless you Tara, you have a beautiful face, one which beams and I know you must be very happy with the great work your DR. specialists have done for you. Dr Jewer did surgery on my hand and it's just great. He has given children in poor countries a new life with many surgeries, I saw it on TV a couple of times and thank God for doctors like him and Dr. Smith. Congratulations to Camp Trailblazers for your great work with the kids!!

  • Tara
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Thank you for your support and encouragement! It really means alot to me and my family when we read these comments that are posted. We would like to thank camp trailblazers for this opportunity. And also the Telegram for doing this articale. ONCE AGAIN A BIG THANK YOU .

  • Trina
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    My daughter was able to attend camp Trailblazers this summer I was very happy as was she there are no supports here in Halifax for my daughter and I was very pleased with the camp.

  • Jackie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Tara, You should be very proud of yourself. You show a lot of self confidence in taking part in the camp. What a wonderful inspiration you are to others!

  • JD
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Tara, you are a very pretty girl!

  • Rebecca
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Tara you are a lovely little girl! I hope Camp Trailblazers is able to continues here. I wish Tara all the best for the future!

  • Tammy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Tara was a student of mine a Virginia Park last year. She is a wonderful little girl, shy and quiet but so friendly and sweet, an absolute joy to know. I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the camp Tara and I really hope you get to do it again. Ms. Hynes is thinking of you - say Hi to your mom and all the gang at Virigina Park for me!

  • Julia
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    Tara is a truly beautiful child on the outside, and I am sure by looking at her, she is just as beautiful on the inside too!

    I hope Camp Trailblazers is here to stay. We live in a cruel world and these wonderful children need to know and be reassured sometimes that they truly are beautiful!

    Good luck with your future surgeries Tara and I wish you a speedy recovery after each and every one of them!

  • Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    God Bless you Tara, you have a beautiful face, one which beams and I know you must be very happy with the great work your DR. specialists have done for you. Dr Jewer did surgery on my hand and it's just great. He has given children in poor countries a new life with many surgeries, I saw it on TV a couple of times and thank God for doctors like him and Dr. Smith. Congratulations to Camp Trailblazers for your great work with the kids!!

  • Tara
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Thank you for your support and encouragement! It really means alot to me and my family when we read these comments that are posted. We would like to thank camp trailblazers for this opportunity. And also the Telegram for doing this articale. ONCE AGAIN A BIG THANK YOU .

  • Trina
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    My daughter was able to attend camp Trailblazers this summer I was very happy as was she there are no supports here in Halifax for my daughter and I was very pleased with the camp.

  • Jackie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Tara, You should be very proud of yourself. You show a lot of self confidence in taking part in the camp. What a wonderful inspiration you are to others!