Experiences at Jordan River Village are transformative! Parents, teachers, doctors, and social workers see a marked difference between the children who enter and the children who leave. Each year we receive hundreds of letters from parents, campers and teachers sharing how experiences at the Village changed campers lives.
Here are just a few of our favorites that motivate and inspire us every day.
Hear from the moms of the Village
Click on the pictures below to read their stories in their own words.
His face can make you melt, and his story will bring you to tears. When you hear him speak, you realize that this child has strength beyond his age because CP has robbed him of a normal childhood.
Background: Growing up with Cerebral Palsy has been challenging for Adam. Even getting out of bed every morning is a process. Because of his Cerebral Palsy, Adam doesn’t feel ordinary. His legs are very weak and he uses a walker or a wheelchair to get around. He knows that people look at him and think he is different.
At the Village: At the Village those feelings changed. He was able to just have fun with his family and make new friends. One of his favorite things was going down the zip line with his brother.
Adam says: “The Village gave me the courage to feel comfortable, not to be ashamed that I’m disabled and different. That feeling allows you to celebrate life.”
Although Noam struggles every day her, smile is contagious! She embodies the idea that fun and friendship can be the best medicine.
Background: Noam was diagnosed with Cystinosis when she was only 10 months old. Since then, she has spent significant time in the hospital. There are only four other kids in Israel with this disease, and when Noam first attended camp in 2012, she met them all.
At the Village: Noam attended camp as a camper for many summers. From her first moment on campus, she felt amazing—you can’t be sad when everyone around you is singing and dancing. Recently, she returned to camp as a counselor. She was excited to be able to give her life-changing experiences to other kids like her.
Noam says: “Jordan River Village is the place that made me feel confident in myself, the place that helped me understand that I am actually not different—I’m special! It was an amazing realization that I wanted to help others find. Just seeing the campers’ smile is worth more than a million dollars.”
Until the age of four, Oliver was a healthy and perfect child. All of a sudden he started rolling his eyes—a small thing, but his parents Talia and Eli worried. After many neurological tests, Oliver was diagnosed with Epilepsy. For four years, he had hundreds of seizures a day. His parents received advice from doctors worldwide, and he tried many drugs, and special diets. Finally two years ago, thanks to an experimental drug, Oliver’s aggressive epilepsy became manageable.
At the Village: Last summer Oliver attended a session at the Jordan River Village – his very first time away from home and his parents’ watchful eye. It was a great experience for him, and for his family who were able to focus for the first time on their other children. It was such a great week that Oliver returned to camp for a second year and plans on going again next year.
Oliver’s Mom Talia says:
“As a mom, I am grateful that JRV exists! I can’t believe that Oliver got up and performed in front of the whole camp. It shows that Oliver was in a place surrounded with undivided love and care. Oliver created friendships with other children like himself, and for the first time in his life he felt as if he belonged.”
Tahel is a 16 year old camper living with Type 1 Diabetes. In December of 2018, Tahel shared her story of being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and how the diagnosis impacted her life. Speaking in front of 1200 people, Tahel explained how her experiences at the Village were not just life changing but life saving. She is a warrior, surviving and thriving everyday, fighting for her future and that of other diabetics in Israel.
Watch her story here