One Day with 2Hearts

By Musa Turner

When I first walked in to observe the 2Hearts camp being held in the Lighthouse grotto, I felt somewhat awkward. 2Hearts is a nonprofit organization that attempts to ease the paths of young children and teens with congenital heart diseases. They provide support through a variety of different means whether that be medical advice or workshops like the one held here at Lighthouse, using it as a chance to bond through writing and to create a story book for their younger peers. Their familiarity and my lack thereof made me feel awkward so I sat on the outskirts of their roundtable editing session listening to their stories about a fictional boy, all heavily inspired by themselves. Despite my slight disconnection to the group, the campers themselves felt extremely connected, often erupting into laughter after a comment about a shared experience. This I feel is the essence of what the camp and organization is all about. Connection. From what I heard in the story reading and researched about 2Hearts, many of the campers have felt isolated in life, due to what they've gone through with congenital heart disease. Some have felt like an outlier in a hospital room; others have felt cut off from fellow schoolmates due to their condition. The 2Hearts program, however, is built to make kids with congenital heart disease feel a part of something.

While I observed, there were moments when they were sitting deep in thought about what to write next for their story or when they were thoughtfully critiquing each others stories. Each told separate parts of their collective story, like finding common ground with a doctor who had a similar condition or feeling left out at school after having to go to the hospital for the third time in three months. Other times there were more lighthearted and relatable moments like the time one of the girls went on a rant about how she couldn’t ride roller coasters or play competitive sports, the other campers agreeing and chiming in with similar stories of their own. They also talked at times about topics outside of just their condition, such as high school things including (but not limited to) dates, parties and gym class, which most everyone could relate to, even some of the instructors in the room.

Even with all of that, they still were able to learn more about the elements of story, such as story arc, dialogue, and compelling imagery. After learning more about story and actually doing the writing, they got a chance to revise their pieces (which I got to assist with), so as to keep all those factors of a story and fit them into a children’s book that a kid would actually take the time to read. Afterward, they would have open critique sessions and such to help get feedback about their stories before preparing to end the day. All in all, the 2Hearts camp felt much more like a gathering of friends than a simple writing camp, as the awkward first days and somewhat sullen moments that can happen at some camps were non-existent.

Along with one another, that feeling of togetherness was also helped by Lighthouse and its cozy and warm atmosphere that radiates throughout the friendly home. Through Lighthouse, they got a chance to not only connect with other kids like them, but they also got a chance to use writing to share their experiences with other kids who may be going through what they have been through, and have them feel connected to someone as well. Making someone else’s life that much easier. Lighthouse being such a wonderful beacon, is a great pathway they used to achieve their goal.

Musa is a rising junior at Denver School of the Arts and was Lighthouse’s Career Connect intern for summer 2018.