Luke’s family calls him “Sunny Jim.” He’s smart, positive, and cheerful. He loves band at school and plays percussion instruments. He also loves playing video games and his favorite is Destiny. Luke is 12-years-old and starting 7th grade at school. He has a twin sister, with perfectly clear skin. Luke has eczema on his face, which stays flared up.
When asked about the challenges his skin condition presents at school he said, “I’m in advanced class, and have been for years. The kids in my class understand, but the general population asks. They aren’t trying to mean, they just don’t know.”
“My biggest challenge when others kids ask is to not take offense, “said Luke. “Most people just don’t know what eczema is.” Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that is characterized by itchy, dry skin that is prone to irritation and infection. Living with severe eczema can be like riding on a roller coaster because there are periods when it flares up unexpectedly- but unlike a roller coaster ride, these flare-ups are anything but fun. They can produce sleepless nights and bloody sheets from scratching, which then can negatively impact mood and ability to concentrate, leading to family stress, school absences and academic difficulties when severe.
A Children’s House for the Soul has helped equip him with knowledge and positive support, while giving him the opportunity to connect with other kids in his situation. Luke and his parents attended the “Love the Skin You’re In” conference in June and he’s been to Camp Dermadillo four times. His family appreciates the encouraging environment where everyone knows what you’re going through. Luke’s dad, Dale, said it was really great to get support from other families and for the younger kids to learn from the older ones. Luke shook his head in agreement.
“Other people have stuff, not just me,” said Luke, “I liked the boxes we built, people saw you.” The box activity helped kids understand they can’t be put in a box because of their condition.
Dale said he enjoyed hearing youth motivational speaker Shannon Pickard. He was funny and entertaining, while helping the kids find joy with that all so important sense of feeing normal.
Luke’s’ parents said the sessions with New York based photographer Rick Guidotti were great. They loved how he used his talents to photograph kids with unique skin conditions. “The kids came alive when he talked to them,” said Dale.
Julie, his mom, said being with children and teens in his situation has been good for Luke. “Others have things that can be even more difficult and painful, requiring constant vigilance. Some kids are dealing with worse things. It has given him perspective.”
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