To recognize World Skin Heath Awareness Day, on the evening of October 14 Niagara Falls will light up green and blue to recognize the Children’s Skin Disease Foundation‘s (CSDF) Camp Wonder, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of children and families impacted by skin disease.

The celebration comes on the heels of CSDF’s 20th anniversary and Camp Wonder’s return to an in-person experience for campers this past July. The Falls will be livestreamed so families and friends can see the illumination from home, and are encouraged to post selfies sharing their memories at Camp Wonder using #20YearsofWonder.

Skin disease in children results in physical pain, some requiring hours of medical care per day, and with that also comes emotional burden due to their appearance. 

Francesca Tenconi, founder of CSDF, was diagnosed at age 11 with pemphigus foliaceous, a rare skin disease that left her constantly feeling different and isolated. Her experiences drove her to create CSDF in 2000, and Camp Wonder launched a year later. The camp offers experiences aimed at enriching the lives of thousands of children impacted by chronic skin disease and empower them to have a childhood without limits.

“I wished for The Children’s Skin Disease Foundation and Camp Wonder for my 16th birthday and am proud that 20 years later, we’re still able to help kids overcome the challenges of their skin disease and celebrate their uniqueness, Francesca Tenconi says. “This past July, at a time when our campers and families needed the supportive experience of Camp Wonder more than ever, we were thrilled to reunite our community with in-person camp for a fun-filled week of friendship, laughter, and encouragement.”

A Buried Life

Children with skin disease often live a buried life – either by clothes or under bandages to hide their fragile medical conditions. For one week, Camp Wonder offers an escape and allows them to surround themselves with children that look and feel the same way they do, because under all the layers they are kids that want to experience life without feeling isolated.  

“I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Camp Wonder for providing my daughter an empowering experience of acceptance, where she now feels part of a supportive community and has friends, she now holds so dear,” said Jen Adkins, parent of Camp Wonder attendee. “In addition to their incredible programming, CSDF truly understands the emotional and financial burden that children’s skin disease can have on families. Thank you for investing in the lives of our beautiful kids.”

CSDF operates solely on donations and raises money to provide the empowering experience of Camp Wonder at no cost, including travel, recognizing that families already take responsibility for most of the financial burden of medical treatment. To offset these costs, each year the organization hosts a charity event — The Wonder Run 5K Run/Walk, founded in 2015 by Galderma.

This year’s event, taking place on December 4, 2021, will be held virtually and feature appearances by Camp Wonder’s mascot, Wonder Duck, completing the run on his treadmill. All proceeds from the race will go directly to CSDF and Camp Wonder.

“Camp Wonder is truly a magical experience for children impacted by skin disease to play sports, go swimming, climb a rock wall, do arts and crafts, go to the ‘prom’ – activities these kids might not otherwise never get to experience because skin diseases cause discomfort, pain, disfigurement, disability, and shame,” John Donofrio, CSDF board member and President of EPI Health comments.

Wonder Wish, an initiative that grants wishes to Camp Wonder families, was created in 2017 to bridge the time between camp each summer. Every camper that has participated in Camp Wonder since 2001 can make a wish.

“Being able to provide the Camp Wonder experience and grant wishes at no cost to the families is so rewarding and we’re grateful to all of those who donate to make Camp Wonder and Wonder Wish a reality each year,” says Todd Zavodnick, CSDF board member and CEO of Dermavant.

[Source(s): Children’s Skin Disease Foundation, PR Newswire]