What is Alopecia and why you should care
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

What is Alopecia and why you should care

How 4 days of summer camp counseling changed my life.

80
What is Alopecia and why you should care
Aleksandra Oppmann

As a #brokecollegestudent, I began to job search the day I got out of my finals. I usually used websites such as Care.com or UrbanSitter for quick and easy babysitting gigs, but neither of these sources proved very useful for finding the short-term jobs that I needed.

I began to branch out and used Indeed.com, searching keywords such as nannying or day camp and finally stumbled upon a 4-day summer camp for NAAF. I didn't question what NAAF stood for, or what the camp was for; all I knew was that I am a good nanny and love spending time with kids, so I sent in an application.

Upon being accepted for the position, I finally began to research what NAAF was and why it would be so crucial to understanding its importance to my job. NAAF is the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, which hosts a conference for children between all ages, primarily 5 to 30, who suffer from the condition of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder during which, in simplest terms, a person is "allergic" to their hair and it falls out.

Each year, the conference takes place in a different location across the United States, and it happened to be at the Hyatt Hotel right near my house. People from across the nation would fly out for this extremely special occasion to bond, hang out, and simply connect with others who had alopecia. I was assigned to work with the tween group, and I was initially very nervous to be approached. I became worried -- what if one of the kids asked me questions about hair that I didn't know the answer to, or what if I made someone uncomfortable by accidentally saying something wrong?

When I met my first child, I immediately lost all sense of anxiety, and when more and more kids joined my group, I was disappointed in myself for expecting to treat these kids any differently than usual; kids will be kids, and these were just as rambunctious as any other child.

Over the course of the following days, I learned more and more about what it's like to be stared at for being bald, what it's like to be a kid and lose your hair all at once, how bullying ranged among kids and through adulthood, and how these kids were so beautiful, not because of how they looked, but how radiant they were in their confidence. Whether patchy, completely bald, or just a sibling of someone who has alopecia, every person carried a story that was shared and could resonate with each person in the room who had gone through similar struggles.

I learned about how people had been attending the conference for nearly their entire lives, and how the bonds made amongst each other allowed for a special alliance and gave a sense of comfort among the people who had alopecia.

What I thought would be a carefree summer camp job became an experience I would never want to take back, and I am so lucky that I could work with all of these wonderful people.

I not only learned about a disorder I had never heard of, but I also became aware of what types of things can offend or hurt people who have alopecia, and most importantly, I was yet again reminded of how no matter what, people are across the board the same and should all be treated as such. When we label people based on their race, religion, sexuality, or ability, we limit how we interact with them, in turn foraging a disservice on both parts, because we could totally miss an opportunity on creating memorable and beautiful bonds.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Golden retriever sat on the sand with ocean in the background
Photo by Justin Aikin on Unsplash

Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore my dog. I am constantly talking about my love for her. I attribute many of my dog's amazing qualities to her breed. She is a purebred Golden Retriever, and because of this I am a self-proclaimed expert on why these are the best pets a family could have. Here are 11 reasons why Goldens are the undisputed best dog breed in the world.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

Boyfriend's Christmas Wishlist: 23 Best Gift Ideas for Her

Here are the gifts I would like to ask my boyfriend for to make this season unforgettable.

85918
Young woman opening a Christmas gift

Recently, an article on Total Sorority Move called 23 Things My Boyfriend Better Not Get Me For Christmas, was going around on social media. I hope the author of this was kidding or using digital sarcasm, but I am still repulsed and shocked by the lack of appreciation throughout this article. I would like to represent the girlfriends out there who disagree with her standpoint -- the girlfriends who would be more than happy to receive any of these gifts from their boyfriends.

Keep Reading...Show less
Two teenage girls smiling

The 2000s were a time that many young adults today can look back on, joyfully reminisce and somewhat cringe at the trends and the fads that we all used to love and adore. Here's a list of things from the golden 2000s that will have one feeling nostalgic about all of those times.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

7 Types Of Students You Will Meet In College

You wish you could be #5, but you know you're probably a #6.

8621
cool group of lazy college students in class
StableDiffusion

There are thousands of universities around the world, and each school boasts its own traditions and slogans. Some schools pride themselves on sports, while others emphasize their research facilities. While there is a myriad of differences among each and every school, there will always these seven types of students in class.

Keep Reading...Show less
woman in white tank top and orange jacket holding a bible
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Life is hard. There is no surprise there. It’s confusing and scary and hectic, but there are some amazing qualities, too. Sometimes you feel alone and don’t know what to do. School gets in the way of what you want to do or you’re dropping friends you thought you trusted. Everyone has their moments. Everyone has felt in the lowest place and couldn’t find the strength to get back up. But I want to help with that. Here are 10 Bible verses I hope will brighten your day, or at least make you feel stronger and happier.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments