Summer camp is a right of passage for many children, but for those who are homeless, camp is a luxury. Rainbow Days' Camp Bravo! in Dallas gives 300 kids in the Dallas Independent School District a chance to experience an arts-focused summer camp.
"There are children in this community growing up homeless and these are our leaders of tomorrow," said Kelly Wierzbinski, Rainbow Days Camp Bravo!, Director of Family Connection. "These kids have never had anybody clap for them. And to build their self-esteem, and get on stage, it's amazing what this camp can do at the end of the week."
Children from 4-years-old to 12-years-old participate in acting, dance, drumming, yoga and team-building classes. All of the children have experienced homelessness, some of them due to domestic violence or trafficking. The goal is to build confidence, and show them what's possible.
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"Where's home?" said 9-year-old Patience. "Um, actually home is wherever I'm at with my family." Patience lives in a Dallas homeless shelter.
"Some people think that they have better houses than me because they have, sometimes, mansions," said 8-year old Donovan, a boy who lives in an Addison motel and seems wise beyond his years. "What I believe to myself, I believe my house is the greatest house in the world."
At Camp Bravo! the children go from being part of Dallas' 'invisible' population, to being seen, recognized and encouraged.
"Children are children. They're just like anybody else, and deserve the same opportunities as anyone else," said Wierzbinski. "Let them know what's out there so that they can dream big and stop the cycle of poverty."
Wierzbinski said Camp Bravo! started in the 1980s. It's been expanded to two sessions in July, but there is a still a waiting list.