Just Being A Kid: Camp TBI Gives Brain Injury Kids Chance "To B - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Just Being A Kid: Camp TBI Gives Brain Injury Kids Chance "To Be Independent"

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In medical-speak, T.B.I. means "traumatic brain injury,"  but for one group of campers, this week it means so much more.

"I feel like I'm on top of the world here, my whole world just stops," Collin LaFon of Decatur says.

That's because this week T-B-I takes on a whole new meaning, and it's good one:

"Camp TBI, to be independent," Peter Mitchell says, "it's amazing it's the highlight of my year."

Independent, they are.  Take a look at Christopher.  He can't walk, but he can fly:  He gets strapped in, and pulled up...and off he goes. Talk about courage.  In their own way, they all find it here:

"It just fills you up," Camp Director Alice Salley says.  "And when they get home I get letters, one mother said, 'My daughter hasn't been the same since the car accident, and you brought her back to life, Camp TBI brought her back to life."

Some traumatic brain injuries are invisible to our eyes, so a child who's battling a lot may look completely normal.  Here, they can just be normal.

"Here everybody's the same," Mitchell says, "we've all been through the same thing, there aren't differences, people in wheelchairs are just as good as people out of wheelchairs."

To kids like Collin, that means a lot.

"Everything I don't normally get to do as a kid, I can do here," he says, "like archery, I could never balance an arrow and pull it back and shoot, but I can do that here."

Every child has a different story how they got here -- but this week -that- is one thing that doesn't matter.

"We don't talk about that, nobody's ashamed of having a brain injury, but we're focusing on new goals, the path towards independence," Salley says.

Those goals may sound simple:

"It could be holding your tooth brush for yourself or overcoming a fear," Salley says.

But for these kids, they're steps towards independence.

"Another letter I got from a mom was, 'My son comes to camp, and he gets to be one of the guys, nobody sees his chair, nobody notices his quiver, they just see him as one of the gang,'" she adds.

A gang that has each other's backs.

"It's just awesome, I can't keep a smile off my face all week,happy, happy, happy," Mitchell says.

 Camp TBI is sponsored by the Walton Foundation.  While they have campers from all across the country, they're working to get more campers here at home; in fact, they've never had a camper from Aiken.  To help connect a camper, click here.



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