Interacting with other young people at Camp Jumoke over the past three years has lifted Ndidi Arimah’s self-esteem and confidence. The Grade Seven student is self-assured when she’s among her peers and adults and is not afraid to offer to make public presentations to raise sickle cell awareness.
This led to her winning this year’s Poster Child competition in which camp participants detail their experiences.
Established in 1994 by the Association for the Advancement of Blacks in Health Sciences, Camp Jumoke is the only camp of its kind in Canada that serves the unique emotional and health care needs of children with sickle cell disease.
Arimah, who was born with the disease, was also the recipient of Camp Jumoke’s $1,500 Beverly Mascoll Memorial Scholarship which was presented last Saturday night at the organization’s 17th annual fundraising gala in Mississauga.
“Ndidi exemplifies the qualities we are looking for in a poster child and scholarship recipient,” said Camp Jumoke president, Yvonne Clarke, who made the presentation. “She’s bright, very driven, positive and just a wonderful person and student with a bright future. She’s also very helpful and she demonstrates leadership qualities.”
Arimah, who is 12 years old, attends St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Bowmanville.
“I am happy that I was selected to be the poster child and the scholarship winner,” said Arimah who spent four days in hospital last month with the disease. “I enjoyed the camps and the opportunity now to share my experience with other young people.”
She aspires to be a teacher.
Mascoll’s name was attached to the scholarship seven years ago. She passed away in May 2001.
At the time of her death, Mascoll – an Order of Canada recipient – was the president of Mascoll Beauty Supply Ltd., and a staunch supporter of Camp Jumoke.
“We are very proud to have her name associated with the scholarship because she believed in education and young people acquiring it to be successful citizens,” said Clarke.
Camp Jumoke, which relies on private funding for its initiatives, used last weekend’s fundraiser to promote the newly-created “Sponsor-A-Child” program. It costs $2,022 for a child to attend the summer camp.
“Last year, we had a record 51 kids, but that number dropped to 30 this year and that had a lot to do … with the global economic downturn,” Clarke said. “Through this new program, we are looking to secure a minimum 10 new sponsors for the next three years. That guarantees that we will be able to send at least 30 young people to camp annually over the three-year period.”
Donors can call (416) 410-2995 or log on to www.jumoke.org for more details.
Sickle cell disease is a life-threatening and hereditary blood disorder that causes malformation of red blood cells that become distorted when they transmit oxygen through the body while thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body is unable to process normal functioning hemoglobin.
Last February, Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle introduced a private members bill in the Ontario legislature that addresses the challenges faced by sickle cell sufferers.
Dr. Isaac Odame, the co-director of the hemoglobinopathy program at Toronto General Hospital (TGH), was the keynote speaker at the Camp Jumoke gala. He played a key role in the design and implementation of universal newborn screening for sickle cell disease in the province and the TGH day program for children which reduces wait times and admissions.
“The plan is that everything will be in place when the child comes in during the day that they would not have to go through emergency, and physicians will be ready to treat them,” he said. “In that way, we believe that by the end of the day, most of those children would be ready to go home. The same can also be done for adults. This is a better, smarter and cheaper way to do things than the way it was done.”
Camp Jumoke also presented awards to registered nurses Pauline Lambert, Carol Buchanan, Meghan Fraser and Lisa Hazel who provide medical support at the summer camps; longtime volunteer Shirley Moore; Rexall Canadian Pharmacy; the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Carpenters District Council of Ontario, which is sponsoring the annual walk-a-thon for the next three years.
This year’s walk-a-thon raised $40,000 which is the most money raised in the last five years.
A special award was presented to Korah Williams-Harrison, the mother of actress Tonya Lee Williams, who celebrated her 81st birthday last July. In lieu of gifts, she had requested that financial contributions be made to Camp Jumoke.
In addition to Clarke, the other Camp Jumoke board directors are Dr. Melanie Kirby, Veronica Rouse, Judy Grandison, Milton Thompson, Dianne Allison, Karen Fleming, Rose Gibbs, Marsha Wilson and Sherman Moore whose sister Gloria Ford died in hospital of sickle cell-related complications a day after childbirth.
He and his sisters – Monica Simms and Shirley Moore – have sickle cell.