Teens with Scoliosis and Their Families Celebrate “10 Years of Connecting Curves”
Co-leaders 18-year-old Jamiah Bennett and 14-year-old leader Julianne Martin were among nearly 200 girls and family members from across the United States, Australia, Canada, Kenya, and Mexico who attended the Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group’s third biennial international convention from June 27th to June 29th in Long Island, New York. Founded in 2006 by then 13-year-old New York resident Leah Stoltz, Curvy Girls engages girls and their families with mutual support, education, and advocacy activities through their experience with Scoliosis.
Scoliosis is the lateral bending and twisting of the spine that, when progressed, causes body deformities and compromises internal organs. It affects seven million people in the United States with a diagnosis most commonly occurring in pre-adolescence. The disease shows progression ten times more frequently in girls than boys.
The three-day convention, themed “10 Years of Connecting Curves,” celebrated a decade of Curvy Girls accomplishments by providing the attendees with emerging scientific and health information, as well as the leadership and advocacy skills to meet the distinct physical, social, and psychological challenges of this disease. “Many people know of Scoliosis as a curvature of the spine and that is it. However, it can be much more than that due to the potential effects of the curved spine along with the emotional challenges it brings. I want to be, along with the Curvy Girls group, a resource for others to talk about their challenges, be heard, and helped,” said Bennett.
Martin also says “Two years ago, I went to the last convention. It was a few weeks before I had spinal surgery, which left me with two rods and eleven screws fused in my spine. Being told you aren’t alone and actually seeing/realizing it are two very different things. I saw all those girls, going through the same struggles as me. That’s how it feels every day to be a part of Curvy Girls. It is an endless stream of support, and you no longer feel alone.”
Leah first convened a small group with three other girls in her backyard to help each other with their personal fears and concerns about Scoliosis. The group grew and went global after she was featured on the first TeenNick HALO (Helping And Leading Others) Awards in 2009 where singer and actor Justin Timberlake honored Leah for her giving back to the community while overcoming hardship. The exposure helped Curvy Girls connect with thousands of affected girls through group meetings and social media, including 83 peer-run self-help groups that operate in 38 states in the United States and 12 countries across six continents. Curvy Girls is unique in that it is run by girls for girls. They have taken a difficult situation and turned it into a triumph for girls everywhere.
The Curvy Girls Convention was supported by 25 sponsoring corporations and benefactors including global companies such as Medtronics and ApiFix, hospital systems such as Texas Health Resources and Northwell Health Systems, and private practitioners throughout the US. A story on the International Convention is available through the Tribune Content Agency wire service out of Chicago. Visit www.curvygirlsscoliosis.com to learn more about Curvy Girls.