PORTSMOUTH — Wings of Hope hosted their annual Make a Difference Day Camp at Shawnee State Lodge. The theme for this year’s camp was “Create Your Community LIVE- LOVE -WORK –PLAY”, and over 100 youth and guardians attended the camp.
The camp was joined by Ben Devoe, Path Integrated Behavioral Health Care of Utah, Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (UMADAOP) of Cincinnati, along with speakers Lisa Roberts, RN, Portsmouth City Health Department, Josh Shepherd, Cordant Health Solutions Leah Butcher, Health Care Administration, Bishop Edward E. Shouse, and Tracee Black Falls of TOVA Nest.
The Make a Difference Day Camp was funded by Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, in collaboration with Portsmouth City Health Department, Wings of Hope, UMADOAP, and PATH.
The camp began Thursday with Maxine Malone, CEO and Director of WOH presenting the purpose of the camp and how the community was built on the inside and spreads out, beginning with the community members. Information was shared on what makes a community productive and creates an atmosphere where everyone can live, love, work, and play. The youth were challenged to think about why they live in a community?
“By living in a community, we develop a sense of belonging that connects us to the relationships we create in our community,” Malone said. “If a “tsunami” (crisis/chaos) hits your home or your community, how could you rebuild what was damaged or lost in your home and community?”
This year’s camp was unique. The youth worked in groups, creating a community using supplies that were provided to be very creative on what they would like their community to look like from the inside out.
At the end of the project, the campers shared with everyone about the community they built. Each group was challenged to name their community, what supports their community had and how would their community overcome challaneges.
“Tell us about the devastation, and tell how you might work to resolve that problem,” Malone asked campers. “How is your home coping, dealing, resolving the pain?”
The second day of camp consisted of Legacy Day with parent volunteers. Legacy Day is a program that helps participants get real about their lives mixed in with lots of fun. The activities were based on social-emotional learning and drug and alcohol prevention by building protective factors for the participants. Participants (teens, parents, and chaperones) were taken through a variety of activities such as “Cross the Line” and “If You Really Knew Me.” In small and large groups the participants were able to Drop the Waterline and have the opportunity to share intimate details about their lives they might not ordinarily share with others.
On Saturday, UMADAOP facilitated a workshop, “Creating Lasting Families”; Tracee Black facilitated a workshop “Creating Your Community”; and “Building Your Community” decorating physical miniature houses and shops and Bishop Edward E. Shouse facilitated a workshop on “Together we can build communities of Joy, Hope, Love, and Peace. The youth groups presented the communities they built to the entire audience and talked about what they wanted to see in their community and why it was important to them.
Maxine Malone said that it is the hope and belief of Wings of Hope that collectively, WOH programming will provide tools, developed by a behavioral health prevention specialist, that identifies signs of poor mental health and addiction, reduces stigma associated with those issues, provides support, and offers resources to people about where to find help. With this information, the community participants will gain the experience and knowledge to make better decisions about their individual mental health needs. Many of the youth’s parents are in recovery from opioid addiction, who are vulnerable to relapses.