Camp Empowers Kids With ADHD To Tap Inner Genius

Kids Are Taught To See Challenges As Gifts

ROCHESTER, Mich - Attention Deficit Hyperactivy Disorder is very common in children, but many children feel alone and isolated because they face challenges they feel others do not.

Now a local group is offering summer camps that teach children to understand that their challenges are really gifts.

This is the second year Girls and Boys Empowered offered the camps to children with ADHD.

"These boys are in schools and classrooms and they feel isolated. They feel, 'I'm the only one that gets angry, I'm the only one that gets distracted. I'm the only one getting into trouble,'" said Drew Yanke, a psychotherapist who works with Girls and Boys Empowered.

Yanke teams up with Kevin Roberts, an author and counselor who helps people deal with ADHD.

"When you bring them together in a camp like this, what's truly amazing, you really start to see them helping each other, supporting each other, understanding that they're not alone," said Yanke.

"It's good for him to see that he's not alone," said Lisa Willcock, a mother from Rochester who enrolled her son, Mack, in the camp.

Mack was diagnosed with ADHD when he was five.

"He doesn't have a real big challenge with the attention aspect of it, he's always been able to focus. It's more of the other issues, the impulsivity, and I hope it just gives him a little more self-confidence in himself that it is okay to maybe be a little different," said Willcock.

Willcock said she saw a change in her son after he spent a couple days at the camp. She recalls what she heard him tell a friend about the camp.

"He said it's for kids who have ADHD and his friend wasn't real certain about what it is and Mack described it as, 'We're not mental by any means, but we have more energy, we're creative, and we're very smart,'" said Willcock.

"It's almost like an untapped fountain for these boys. There's a massive amount of creativity that could be tapped with these boys and it's all the positives," said Yanke.

The camp works with the children to focus on their strengths and manage their weaknesses. They teach through fun games including one called "nasty noodles."

"The idea is that we have spaghetti noodles, and in a sense, it's the brain," said Yanke. "What we're trying to teach the boys (is) everything that we do, everything that we have for our brains, affects our brains. So if we do negative behaviors, this is what it looks like, so we stir it up at the end and it looks all gooey and smells bad."

The camp reinforces the message Willcock is teaching her son at home.

"We try to tell him that there are gifts, and it is truly just different, and you're going to be OK, and you're probably going to be better at one thing than you are if you didn't have ADHD," said Willcock.

"They're learners, a lot of them are very aware of their surroundings, they understand things a lot quicker than some other people do," said Yanke.

Yanke said the group encourage parents to stay in contact after the camp so the kids can get together for play dates and the parents can help each other.

For more information: Girls and Boys Empowered

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