One of the good things about the trends in teen movies today is that they no longer fall short on inclusion. There are more stories about people of color and from the LGBTQ community. And they are no longer mostly about able-bodied teens. There are also more stories about teens who are suffering from cancer or other long-term illness. But looking at among the trends of teen movies dealing with health issues is another thing to consider.
For one, there are enough movies where they show how important (and fun!) it can be to participate in outdoor activities for teens who are suffering from a long-term illness. That’s why even after undergoing an endoscopy procedure and other related tests, we see people cope with other ways. We see them explore romance and friendships. That’s not really a bad thing. But the movies also neglect to show how immersing in nature can help teens who are living with cancer.
Luckily, there are some organizations that offer outdoor activities for teens and kids with long-term illness.
Full-blown Outdoor Adventures with First Descent
A study by the Outdoor Recreation Network has shown that 49 percent of people living with cancer experience mental health issues, especially depression. This proves that cancer is not just a physical health issue. People’s minds and emotions also suffer. But the same study shows how 50 percent of cancer patients and survivors participate in physical activities that help them manage their health in the long run.
With these rates in mind, it’s clear that physical activities can help teens who are living with cancer. Provided that they get their doctor’s approval, of course. The good thing is that there is First Descent. It’s a nonprofit organization that encourages young adults with cancer to participate in outdoor activities.
The organization was launched by Brad Ludden in 2001. The organization focuses on young adults because, every year, there are more or less 70 thousand new cases of cancer. They are considered the fastest growing and yet most underserved age demographic in the field of cancer.
For First Descent, outdoor activities are much more than just jogging in the park or in the woods. The organization’s participants get to partake in outdoor activities such as kayaking, rock climbing, and surfing.
Camping with Epic Experience
Sometimes, the best way to help teens with cancer is to surround them with other teens who are going through the same thing. Yes, it helps tremendously that their family and friends are very supportive. But they could still feel lonely and depressed because they feel that no one could understand what they’re going through. Attending camps for people with cancer would help. This way, they are able to get away from the chaos of their lives at home and focus on themselves.
Nancy Ferro, too, found the value of setting up camps for people with cancer. Her deep understanding of the struggle with illness came from her oldest son’s experience. After her son survived cancer, he had the chance to attend an outdoor adventure camp. Ferro saw how her son found happiness in being outdoors. So she launched Epic Experience in 2012.
Much like First Descent, camp attendees of Epic Experience get to partake in kayaking. But they also get to do some water rafting, hiking, and, during wintertime, skiing and sledding. The camp is open to teens and other young adults.
Spiritual Healing with the Lighthouse Family Retreat
As mentioned earlier, cancer affects more than just physical health. It also affects the mind and emotions. This is why looking for ways to uplift teens’ mood is an important aspect of cancer treatment. Looking for spiritual healing can help with that.
This is what the Lighthouse Family Retreat offers for people with cancer and their families. Their seaside retreats in Florida prove the positive effects of surrounding ourselves with nature as we try to heal our bodies. The mission of the Lighthouse Family Retreat is rooted in the Christian faith. They believe that reconnecting or strengthening people’s connection with God will help in the fight against cancer. And what better way to immerse in God’s presence than in nature?
The retreat attendees get to go swimming, play games by the beach, and participate in other events such as talent shows and night outs.
Being a teenager is hard enough without adding cancer into the mix. Teens can fight cancer in many ways. But the most crucial thing is that they have to make sure that they are well-prepared for that fight. Immersing in nature and participating in outdoor activities can help with that.