If you would have met Kayla as a 6th grader, you’d likely agree she was a highly difficult kid. She was angry all the time, constantly defying teachers and nearly impossible to keep on task with school work. Furthermore, her bad attitude often left her isolated from peers. But, what you may not have known about 6th-grade Kayla is that after each disruptive day at school, Kayla would return home to an unsafe, unstable household of abuse and neglect.
Fortunately, authority figures in Kayla’s life found out about her situation and were able to remove her from her home. But, naturally, her behavioral and emotional issues were not as simply removable.
Then, Kayla was enrolled in Jameson Camp, a United Way-supported agency. The camp staff was dedicated to helping her, and began working with Kayla on her interaction skills with both peers and staff. And after time a persistence, it began to work. “When you’re around adults that respect you and you respect them, it’s very different than what I dealt with at home,” Kayla said, adding that the positive environment of camp felt like a whole new world.
“The most uplifting part of camp was the Youth Leadership program,” Kayla said. In this year-round program, teens participate in leadership workshops, backpacking trips, event planning and community service. “Helping and working with different types of people from various backgrounds put so much perspective into my life,” Kayla shared. “I realized I was not the only one in a rough situation, which influenced me to stop isolating myself and instead open up my heart to my family and community.”
It wasn’t long before Kayla began viewing her everyday life through the lens of this new perspective. “I took the leadership skills I developed at camp to become president of Best Buddies as a junior [in high school]. I also used these skills to create two new clubs at my school,” Kayla proudly stated.
Next year, Kayla will attend Marian University to study psychology – a field that caught her interest because of the many Jameson Camp staff members with psychology backgrounds who encouraged her to further her education. Although she didn’t have the means to afford Marian, her years of hard work and perseverance helped her receive many distinctive scholarships that will allow her to attend the private school of her dreams on a full ride.
Thanks to your support of United Way and Jameson Camp, Kayla has come a long way from the angry, abused and closed off young camper she was when she first arrived at Jameson Camp. Because of you, Kayla has been given the chance to overcome her circumstances and live an independent, healthy and happy life.
Note: United Way fights for the Education, Financial Stability, Health and Basic Needs of everyone in our community. Jameson Camp is a United Way-funded agency addressing one or more of these priorities by enriching the lives of Indiana youth by inspiring them to discover their strengths.