BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — This week One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center is hosting ‘Camp Hope America-Alabama.’ This is for children who have been impacted by domestic violence or other family trauma.

Camp Hope’s director Kelly Klehm said their mission this week is to give the children in their program a pathway to hope and healing.

It’s all taking place at Camp Cosby where the children are able to participate in fun activities like rock climbing, crafts, campfires and more.

This is all in addition to camp coaches taking them through a curriculum that shows them how to believe in themselves, others, and their dreams.

Klehm said it’s kids like Aylah, 10,  that need to know they’re not alone in what they’ve gone through and there are adults that care about them.

“And they need to believe in themselves, and this program is really teaching kids that they can do hard things and set goals and achieve those goals,” said Klehm who also serves as Deputy Director at One Place.  

Klehm asked Aylah what plans and goals she set for her future this week.

“To graduate high school, get into my dream college- well, it’s UAB in Birmingham, and then get into med school, and then go to college, graduate college, and become a doctor,” said Aylah.

According to data from One Place, three of the largest police departments in Jefferson County responded to 13,775 domestic violence calls in 2021.

Klehm said this and other family trauma impacts many of our youth. She added many children with trauma don’t know how to respond appropriately to certain situations.

That’s why Camp Hope works to provide a safe environment for these children to experience controlled challenges. That way they can see that they can do hard things and have support from adults.

Klehm said the impact of trauma early on has lasting effects on children.

“It effects how they show up at school,” said Klehm. “It effects their brain development, and it effects how they interact with others. So, we’ve got kids that are easily triggered by certain adults or certain situations and don’t know how to respond appropriately when there are challenges.”

This week, Klehm said they are working with 16 kids who’ve experienced a variety of trauma and violence they didn’t deserve to go through.

Aylah said she learned so much and that it feels awesome to receive unconditional support and encouragement from camp leaders.

“They’re my whole world,” said Aylah. “They bring me happiness and they’re exciting. Like Chanel, one of my counselors, she’s very loud and has a lot of energy and she just is amazing and so are all the other counselors in our cabin. They’re just amazing.”

Aylah said she hopes to return as a camp hope coach one day to help inspire others just like they have done for her.