Camp helps children heal after disaster

Many children may not show it, but kids can suffer long-term affects from disasters. An example in our area is the tornado that hit Brookport, Illinois, in 2013.

Experts who work with kids across the nation say children deal with trauma in different ways. Two years later, Mt. Horeb Church in Metropolis is hosting Camp Noah to help children continue to heal.

Today, as 8-year-old Hayley Cunningham works on art projects and plays at day camp with friends, she's no longer afraid.

"My dad heard sirens first, and he said 'Lets go to the neighbors,'" Hayley said.

She was afraid that day, two years ago, when a tornado hit the ground near her home.

"It came and pushed our house up in the air and slammed it to the ground," Hayley said.

Now that day is far from her mind. Camp Noah is a day camp designed to help children like Hayley cope with trauma. 

"It can be a tornado, it can be a flood, it can be the loss of a loved one," said Tiffany Benberry, a Mt. Horeb Church member who organized for the camp.

Benberry organized to have the camp after she saw a need for something like it.
 
"It won't be the last storm. There's many more to come, but we want to be able to cope with them when they do come," Benberry said.
 
Through games and art projects, the camp hopes to give kids like Hayley comfort and security the next time disaster hits, a comfort Hayley is already trying to pass on to other children.

"Don't be scared. It's natural if you are your first time. Just don't be scared," Hayley said.
 
Benberry says they were only supposed to register 50 children in the day camp, but they had 70 kids after so many parents reached out.
   
Camp Noah is sponsored by the Lutheran Church, based in Minnesota. 

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