GabbaCamp has garnered quite a bit of attention in the community and it’s with the support of our friends and sponsors that we’re even able to get this project off the ground.
We like to reach out to our donors every now and again to get an idea of what inspired them to get involved in this project and what aspects of GabbaCamp resonate with them most.
Recently we spoke with Danielle, mother of Elisa and founder of Elisa’s Entourage, a non-profit organization aiding in the support and awareness of the differently-abled community, about starting her non-profit and how it aligns with the mission of GabbaCamp:
What did you learn in those early days or months that inspired starting Elisa’s Entourage?
We were unprepared for Elisa’s diagnosis and the journey it set us on. Our most valuable resource in the early days were families that reached out to us that were in similar situations. We needed to talk to other parents that had been in out shoes and not only survived, but thrived, as their child grew up. We discovered many resources were out there for individuals like Elisa and we wanted to support and elevate the work they were doing while letting the community know about these critical programs.
Are there any milestones that Elisa has reached that stand out among the others?
It took Elisa a long time to learn to speak. For a long time, I was concerned that she may be non-verbal or would have very limited verbal communication. She started speaking slowly and now, she can have full conversations. She is still working at her pronunciation and diction so people who do not know her as well may struggle to understand her. After so many years of worrying that she may not have that skill, it is amazing to talk with her after school about her day and have her ask, “so, what about you?”
What have you learned about our community as Elisa’s Entourage has grown?
We have an incredibly generous and supportive community. Elisa’s Entourage has not only allowed us to connect with individuals and companies that want to support the differently-abled community, but has also allowed us to become a part of so many wonderful community projects that create space for these folks. It has been cool to watch projects like GabbaCamp create meaningful conversations about abilities and inclusion and watch our community evolve to embrace those values.
What inspired you to donate to Gabba Camp and what do you think Elisa will enjoy most? Hike on the path through the woods? Fishing? Roasting marshmallows? Perhaps something else?
Elisa loves being outside and having fun. Imagining her roasting marshmallows and singing around a campfire with her peers is a dream come true. When we think about her visiting GabbaCamp, it is emotional- we never knew that would be an option for her due to the limitations of traditional sleep away camps. When we heard about GabbaCamp and the opportunity to sponsor a cabin, we committed to creating a space in Elisa’s honor. Her story has inspired our supporters to help us build a more inclusive world for the differently-abled. GabbaCamp is a beautiful example of the work we strived to make a reality when we started the Entourage.
If there is anything else you would like to say regarding your experience as a parent of a child with special needs and the need for services once kids age out of programming designed for children, we would love to hear and share your perspective.
Parenting a child who is differently abled is a long, hard journey. We have to work harder for our children to have access to things that parents of typical children may take for granted. While they are young, there are a myriad of programs to help parents educate, entertain and socialize their child. As your child grows, those opportunities become fewer. One reason we chose to provide financial support to GabbaCamp and Golden String is because of the wonderful work done by these groups. We know when Elisa gets older, she will be able to find friends and a place among the adults that benefit from Golden String’s mission.