After a diagnosis of scoliosis a few months ago and learning she would need to wear a back brace, Kaitlyn McAfee felt as if she were the only girl dealing with being scared and embarrassed by a scoliosis diagnosis. When she discovered an online peer-driven support group called Curvy Girls Scoliosis and realized they did not have a Tennessee chapter, she knew she had to start the first official Tennessee group.
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 U.S., with diagnosis most commonly occurring in pre-adolescence. The disease shows progression 10 times more frequently in girls than boys.
Curvy Girls groups provide peer-to-peer and family-to-family support and information.
Kaitlyn, leader of the Tennessee Curvy Girls Support Group, and her mom Jennifer recently returned from the first-ever international convention in Long Island, N.Y. Kaitlyn was one of over 150 attendees from over 23 states and Canada. She will be facilitating monthly meetings of girls affected by scoliosis. The peer to peer meetings allow girls to network and discuss topics that they are dealing with, including the physical rigors and reality of wearing a brace several hours a day as well as practical questions about sports, exercise, even fashion.
Kaitlyn said, “The convention gave me a chance to meet Curvy Girls from around the country. I learned leadership skills to run an effective group. It was overwhelming to meet so many girls who are going through the same thing. Now I know I’m not alone in my scoliosis journey.”
Founded in 2006 by then-13-year-old Smithtown, N.Y. resident Leah Stoltz, Curvy Girls has successfully engaged hundreds of young girls and families in mutual support and advocacy activities through the experience of scoliosis.
The convention included national speakers on cutting-edge innovations in the treatment and rehabilitation of scoliosis such as bracing, physical therapy approaches, and surgical techniques.
Now, Kaitlyn’s plan is to reach out to other Tennessee girls to let them know they are not alone in their scoliosis journey. She wants to empower them to feel good about themselves. She is planning a 5K next June to raise money for scoliosis awareness.
To find out more information about Curvy Girls of Tennessee contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.curvygirlschattanooga.com.