Communities Foundation of Oklahoma Blog

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Communities Foundation of Oklahoma


By Randy Macon / April 3, 2017


Over Spring Break, twenty-two campers, six counselors and several Cavett Kids volunteers and staff traveled to Colorado to attend the Ski Camp for teens disabled by cancer, either through amputation or by involvement of muscle tissue.  Each March, the campers receive special instruction and equipment for four days in Winter Park, Colorado, at one of the world’s largest programs for disabled skiers – National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD).  During this outing, Campers work together to overcome their physical disabilities.

Above and beyond our Ski Camp, we also know that summer camp season is just around the corner, and children in communities across Oklahoma gear up for fishing, swimming, sleepovers, and playing baseball.  In those same communities live hundreds of ordinary children living through extraordinary medical challenges; children who too often have to watch while others play, walk while others run, and hope for a time when illness no longer limits their opportunities to have a good time.

The Cavett Kids Foundation (CKF) was founded to ensure that Oklahoma’s chronically and seriously ill children have the same access to outdoor fun as healthy kids. Many children in treatment miss out on typical character-building opportunities - things like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, team sports, even after-school activities - due to illness.  CKF camps and events provide the opportunity to experience childhood the way it is supposed to be lived, with hands in the dirt, and a worm on the hook.  CKF camps and programs allow these kids to establish an identity away from the treatment room and hospital, to instill confidence while creating connections.  This is the Cavett Kids’ experience – reminding campers their illness does not have to limit their ability to have a full life.

It is the hard work of dedicated volunteers – from dialysis nurses that keep bedside vigil each night to the local fisherman who come back every year just for fun – that makes these camps happen, ensuring both a good time for the kids and a continuum of specialized care.  Knowing that their children are safe and happy, parents have the rare opportunity to relax and enjoy their temporary respite from daily caretaking duties.

 

Over the years, donors have generously given of their time in a plethora of activities such as  taking kids fishing and tubing during Camp Cavett (children with a variety of life-threatening illness), white water rafting at Heart Camp (teens with congenital heart disease), skiing at Ski Camp (campers affected by muscle loss or amputations due to cancer), shooting clay pigeons at Leadership Camp (campers with exceptional leadership qualities), leading archery at Camp Wildfire (spina bifida, cerebral palsy and PKU patients), dancing the night away at Kamp Courage (kidney/spina bifida/diabetes), and teaching older campers life lessons at Transitions Camp (campers striving to succeed at adult life)  These camps have significantly contributed to making a life changing impact on these campers’ lives. 

 

“Camp Cavett has allowed me to finally put the puzzle pieces together.  Going through chemotherapy and experiencing cancer leaves us all confused – with a lot of unanswered questions and loose ends.  At camp, we relate to each other – and we are the only people in the world that can improve each other based on each individual’s personal struggles and experiences.  We live such different lives from the rest of the world.  When we come to camp, for once, we’re normal.”  - Paige (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma). 

 Outside of volunteering time, others have generously given and raised thousands of dollars so that these special children can enjoy camps free of charge. These camps and events are not possible without the extreme generosity of private donations. The Oklahoma community has become a mountain of support for Cavett Kids Foundation and its many campers.  

  Cavett Kids Foundation - Three C’s:

  1.  Teach Coping Skills in a nurturing, fun environment;
  2.  Build Character by reinforcing positive expectations and encouraging personal growth;
  3.  Establish meaningful Connections between children who often feel isolated from their peers.

 These are the “Three C’s” that the Cavett Kids Foundation strives to instill in every camper – the cornerstone of the Cavett Kids’ philosophy, and the main reason that Cavett Kids’ events so often become a transformative experience for both campers and volunteers. 

 What started with one camp and a dream has now become six camps serving over 400 children with various life-threatening and chronic illnesses each year.  The diagnoses may differ – leukemia, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease to name just a few – and the treatments and outcomes may vary, but a common experience links all campers, creating a unique environment where children hear stories that sound remarkably like their own.  For many, camp is the only place where these children feel truly understood, where they never feel left out.   Cavett Kids also helps over 12,000 children and their families through a partnership with University of Oklahoma Physicians called Diversionary Play. 

 Camp fosters independence and self-sufficiency; it creates a sense of being able to do normal things while dealing with extraordinary challenges.  In the process, support systems are formed, friendships that campers can rely on long after camp is over and the hardships of normal life have resumed.  Children feel it and parents see it.  Children come home, tired but happy, fortified by fun and sunshine, excited about the challenges they faced and the friendships they made, instilled with newfound feelings of independence, and – most important of all – proud of themselves and all that they accomplished.  When Cavett Kids go back to school in the fall, they’ll have their own camp stories to tell - just another ordinary summer camp experience in the Oklahoma sunshine.  Isn’t that extraordinary?

             Cavett Kids Foundation: "Where illness does not define the child."  

learn more cavettkids.org



Oklahoma City Harvest is an educational program of OKC Beautiful. The program is committed to providing and supporting gardens in school yards within at-risk communities. 

We currently have 24 gardens growing in schoolyards across the metro area. These gardens serve as outdoor classrooms, teaching gardens, work spaces, and art studios. We emphasize that the school garden is a beautiful, quiet, and healthy outdoor space in which to learn. With all of the funding challenges facing our public schools, we believe that visits to the school garden can function as an “in-school field trips”. 

 

We continue to support our school gardens with ongoing plantings, seeds, soil amendments and curriculum support. In our next phase, we will begin focusing on programming and helping new and veteran teachers to cultivate lots of great learning opportunities that expand beyond the scope of classroom learning. We know that classroom innovators can find ways to utilize garden produce in culinary lessons, nutrition learning, and healthier living lessons.  We know that children are more likely to sample veggies that they’ve helped grow. We know that a fresh air gardening adventure enhances student learning, improves classroom behavior and can even impact teacher morale. 

learn more: okcharvest.org

 


Project Transformation Oklahoma

Mission: Project Transformation is a children’s literacy program that transforms lives and revitalizes economically distressed communities by providing educational opportunities, fostering positive leadership, and engaging individuals and congregations in effective social outreach. 

 

Project Transformation Oklahoma operates eight-week, summer literacy programs with 56 college-aged AmeriCorps Members serving more than 450 children in 8 high-need neighborhoods. The programs for at-risk children grades 1-8, focus on enriching mind and body with an emphasis on literacy.

The Summer Program is an evidence-based program that was designed to help children develop a love for reading and learning, remain engaged in school, and maintain or improve their reading level during the summer months when most children from low-income families lose ground they have gained the previous school year. 

learn more: projecttransformation.org/oklahoma/


 

As summer approaches, most high school students begin to daydream of time spent on the beach or relaxing with friends. However, students in Union City have much more ambitious plans in mind. After completing their first year of personalized learning, these high schoolers have asked school administrators to let them continue their coursework into late June. 


Personalized learning allows students to complete their assignments with flexibility as to their time, path, pace and place. While the traditional school day requires arrival and departure at specific times, personalized learning gives students the flexibility to choose when they attend school within set hours, as long as students meet the state-mandated 6.5 hours of seat time each day. In addition, students blend in-person and online instruction.

To continue this work into the summer, Union City High School hopes to raise $6,500 to fund five teacher salaries to oversee the program. If funded, the program will run from May 23 to June 20.

For more information or to donate, please contact Kasey Boes with the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center at (405) 561-1949, or email kasey.boes@opsrc.net. Donations to this program may qualify for a tax credit. 

Water4 Inspires Innovation and Equips Entrepreneurs in Africa

 Water4, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit, has focused on eradicating the world water crisis by fostering entrepreneurship since 2008.

Guided by a belief that opportunity is greater than charity, Water4 employs a unique approach: empower local men and women in developing countries to solve their own community’s water needs. Water4 accomplishes this through a robust training process, resulting in local entrepreneurs owning and operating their own water well drilling and repair businesses.

 Nestor, a Togolese national, is just one example. He is leading the charge in Togo to end the water crisis by innovating new drilling tools for his small business, which now has three active drill teams. Since 2010, Nestor and his teams have completed 353 water projects serving nearly 106,000 people. 

2013 Water4 Gala- Nestor's Story from Lampstand on Vimeo.

Nestor is just one of more than 400 exceptional men and women that Water4 supports throughout Africa. Their goal? To end the water crisis in their own communities in their lifetime.


 learn more: water4.org 


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