Perspectives: Children at the Conference
Seen AND Heard: the 2006 Conference from the Children's Point of View
Although many parents attend Nevus Outreach conferences for the unique opportunity to listen to and speak with many of the world's foremost experts on nevi, children enjoy conferences for a simpler reason. They enjoy spending time with other children who are like them, children who already know what a nevus is and why they have to be careful to wear sunscreen before playing in the pool, children who look at them and see skin twins and lifelong friends instead of someone who is different.
One seven-year-old who attended the recent 2006 Conference said, "I loved making new friends and seeing I'm not the only one with a giant nevus," while an older child said, "It's fun to be around other people with nevus!"
They're not the only ones who feel that way. Other child attendees said:
- "My favorite part of the conference was making friends." M. age 5
- "I liked the conference because I saw some old friends." M. age 9
- "I would like the conference to last longer; I liked the kids there. I liked everything." K. age 9
- "What I love best is making new friends. The conference is too short; I want to spend more time with my friends." Anonymous
Spending time with other children who have nevi is a transformative experience—it reminds them that they are not alone, and that is a priceless reminder to anyone who worries that they are too different to be understood, accepted, and loved. After attending the conference and spending time with other children who have nevi, four-year-old G. said, "I'm not angry anymore. I'm happy."
Not only do kids get the unique and powerful opportunity to develop lasting friendships with dozens of other children who have nevi, they also get to spend time with adults who have nevi. One child commented, "I love when we talk about nevus with grownups," while another agreed, "I love talking with adults with nevus." The opportunity to talk to adults who understand exactly what they're experiencing and whose radiant happiness and normal lives illustrate that it is entirely possible to have both a nevus and a happy, normal life is a deeply reassuring experience. One child explained, "They can tell you how it felt to them, and they can teach you how to not get teased. They show us we can make it through it."
Although conferences provide parents with much-needed medical information, they provide children with equally essential emotional connections to other children who become lifelong friends and to adults who become reassuring role models.