2020-2021 Grand Service Project
To view the video of Grand Worthy Advisor Isabella making the announcement of this year's Grand Service Project, The Painted Turtle, at the First Official Visit in 2019 by clicking on her picture on the right.
Below is the transcript of the speech given by our Grand Worthy Advisor, Isabella, introducing our new Grand Service Project, The Painted Turtle (www.thepaintedturtle.org) at the First Official Visit in 2019.
True or false: even though you cannot see the air it is all around you. True right? It’s common sense, proven by science. Whether you go to the beach, your school or home, you are always surrounded by air. But have you ever tried to explain air? It can be hard to accurately describe because everyone’s interpretation will vary.
When I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Fibromyalgia. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic pain every day. It can be difficult to endure this relentless discomfort, especially when I’m at school and must focus on my assignments and not be distracted by how bad my back and legs hurt. Over the years, I have been told by teachers, students and even friends and family that I look fine. That I do not look sick. Which, is true. You cannot see my inflamed nerves but I can still feel them.
There are nearly twenty million children who fight a life-threatening condition in the United States and for these kids, the illness is always present and just like the air, it cannot be always seen. Describing pain or illness can be as subjective as describing air. Sure, there are scientific, technical terms to explain just about anything, but the terminology does not translate relatability. It is said that human beings long to be accepted, understood and belong. Because of how strenuous chronic conditions can be, it impacts how they live their everyday lives and identify with the world. Sure, a positive attitude definitely helps but it cannot change the fact that sometimes it can just be too much. Even the simplest task can be absolutely draining and demanding to accomplish.
I remember a time when I went to a camp through my church. I wanted to participate in everything but sometimes struggled because of overwhelming fatigue. Many medical conditions are so severe that children who battle them, can’t even go to camp. Their illness demands constant medical attention and present limitations that your average summer camp cannot adequately accommodate. But at the Painted Turtle, children from ages 6 to 17 with all kinds of chronic or life-threatening conditions, 90 of them to be exact, can participate in the camp of their dreams, absolutely free. Not only is their trip free of cost, it is free from judgment. Each week of camp is dedicated to a specific condition. This means kids like me, who have a rheumatic disease all attend the same week. So, children who have cystic fibrosis, hemophilia or cancer can experience camp without being afraid of what others will think. Families can rest assured knowing their little one will have state of the art facilities to care for them in the event of a sudden crisis or even just for checkups. This gives them a chance to for once, just be a kid.
Every child deserves a chance to have fun, feel safe and feel included. The Painted Turtle has created a Camp that offers a variety of positive, fun activities like wheelchair-accessible zip-lining, archery, and even dance parties. No camper feels out of place because, at The Painted Turtle, everyone belongs. It would mean the absolute world to me if all of CA Rainbow would join me by helping the Painted Turtle to continue its mission to reach beyond illness and inspire children to become their greatest selves while offering education, free family weekends and an authentic Camp experience for these amazing kids. Let’s Lead these deserving children to a place where they can be carefree, cared for, and feel accepted by sending them to camp at The Painted Turtle where they can just be kids.