North Star Reach Receives $56K Grant for Teens with Serious Medical Conditions

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From Ami Walsh, North Star Reach

North Star Reach, the local medical specialty camp for children and teens with serious illnesses and their families, received a $56,380 Generator Z grant to offer community-building and personal development programs for teens living with chronic and life-threatening health challenges.

Launched in 2020, Generator Z is a teen-led initiative to reimagine the future of afterschool. More than 1,000 teenagers from across Southeast Michigan and Western New York became 'Generators' and shared their afterschool experience and insight online, and organizations like North Star Reach stepped up with ideas to turn that teen insight into action.

North Star Reach is one of just 11 organizations in Washtenaw and Livingston counties to receive funding. The support will fund a three-part initiative called “Find Your Place, People & Voice,” which includes an online summer camp experience, virtual year-round meetups, and a conference dedicated to addressing adolescent mental health and wellness. The series will focus on helping teens gain independence, which can be especially challenging for adolescents with serious health challenges as they transition to adulthood.

“Dealing with a serious health challenge, many decisions are out of your control,” says North Star Reach’s Mike “Coach” Parker, Director of Volunteer Engagement. “But at camp we want to give them back that freedom – to empower them to choose and advocate for what they need. Along with the more serious aspects of accepting new responsibilities, we intend to try to incorporate activities our teens already love – video games, sports, music – into the community-building sessions that we have together.” 2

All programs are offered FREE to teens who have a qualifying medical diagnosis. The online summer camp, called Solstice Camp, kicks off July 19 and runs until July 23. Virtual meetups will begin in the fall. The virtual Teen Conference is scheduled for December 10, 2021.

“Our teen summer camp session has always been a centerpiece of our programming, and we feel exceptionally grateful to have additional monetary support to put our vision into practice,” says Monica Philipp, North Star Reach Associate Director of Development. “We know that being a teenager is already filled with stressors and then to add the transition from pediatric to adult care is no small feat. We are excited to build support systems and a community to help our teen campers through this important time in their lives.”

Generator Z driven by teens and powered by Lakeshore Connections with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. Receiving funding that was driven by teens for teens to create the change they want to see makes this an especially meaningful grant, adds Philipp. “With this funding we’re able to incorporate their wants, needs and feedback to make sure we are supporting them in the ways they need it most.”

The free programs are open to teens with qualifying medical diagnosis. To learn more about these programs and North Star Reach, visit www.northstarreach.org

About North Star Reach:

Located on 105 scenic acres of rolling hills and waterfront in Pickney, Michigan, North Star Reach is a medical specialty camp that serves kids with chronic and life-threatening health challenges and their family members, all at no charge to them. The state-of-the-art health center is staffed by medical professionals from leading hospitals and medical centers throughout the Great Lakes region. North Star Reach is also a member of the prestigious SeriousFun Children’s Network (SFCN). Founded by legendary actor and philanthropist Paul Newman in 1988, SFCN is now a global network of 30 camps and programs for children with special medical needs. As a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, North Star Reach is independently managed and funded and entirely dependent on private donations to serve every camper free of charge. Learn more at our main website, and on Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn.

Photo: Teens having fun at the North Star Reach Teen Camp in 2018: Courtesy NSR.

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