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Camp helps family members deal with Alzheimer's

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Jessica Laws, 13, talks to the campers about having a grandfather with Alzheimer's. Jessica Laws, 13, talks to the campers about having a grandfather with Alzheimer's.
The freedom to play, to horse around without a care in the world is something these kids rarely get a chance to do. The freedom to play, to horse around without a care in the world is something these kids rarely get a chance to do.

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9  

DAVIS, Okla. -- This is the first year for the camp, called Building Bridges. It's an unusual chance for teens to meet people from all over the country, who are just like them.

Each one of them lives with a parent or grandparent who has Alzheimer's.

Jessica Laws is 13-years-old and often feels more like a parent than a granddaughter.

"I'm constantly trying to remember something for him," Laws said. "Did he take his pills? Did he eat this morning? Does he have time to eat? Do we have to get on the road as quick as possible?"

Austin Mobley is also 13-years-old. His mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's about six years ago.

"I start thinking, ‘Am I ever going to have my Mom back?' Which I know I'm not," Mobley said.

To help her son, and other kids, Mobley's mother got a grant to start the six-day camp.

"My son, I've seen him struggle with anger issues, self-esteem," camp director and Austin's mother Tracy Mobley said. "This disease just takes so much away from them."

The campers all remember when they found out their mother, father or grandparent has the disease.

Here, they share their stories and feelings with people who understand them.

Between the emotional release inside and the physical activity outside the camp gives the kids moments, free from responsibility, time just for them.

"It gets kind of frustrating, so coming to camp that's a long way away from home; no worries, just me and some other kids, is fun."

These kids are not alone. Close to 6,000 families in Oklahoma include someone under the age of 65 who has early onset Alzheimer's.

For more information click on the Camp Building Bridges' Web site.

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