Wednesday, May 28, 2014
As an 11-year-old recently diagnosed with scoliosis, Kaitlyn McAfee had an idea. With the help of her family, that idea was put into action and resulted in a local support group for young girls with scoliosis, called Curvy Girls Chattanooga.
Now, as she is about to enter Ooltewah High School as a freshman, Kaitlyn’s organization is increasing in size and reach.
Last year, Curvy Girls Chattanooga held its first 5k color run, Color the Curve, attracting 1,100 people from 18 states and even Canada and raising $13,000 for the National Scoliosis Foundation.
Over the past year, the group branched out from its national parent organization, Curvy Girls, and changed its name to The Curve Scoliosis to be more inclusive of families dealing with the disease. Since then, it’s been growing in size, with 30 attendees at the last group meeting, including two boys.
“I think opening it to families is what really made the difference,” said Kaitlyn’s mom Jennifer McAfee, who has been closely involved with promoting the group and events. “We realized more about how it affects families as a whole; we really wanted to branch out and support everybody dealing with scoliosis.”
Beyond the 5k events and group meetings, The Curve Scoliosis is now reaching into local middle and elementary schools by raising money to supply them with scoliometers to test students.
“The earlier you catch [scoliosis], the more options you have,” Kaitlyn said. “One of my biggest goals is to get scoliosis screenings back in schools, because they aren’t required to do it anymore. I want everyone to be aware of scoliosis and what it is. It’s more common than you think.”
The Curve Scoliosis can even help schools find professionals to educate teachers and students on the signs of scoliosis, Jennifer McAfee said.
Kaitlyn now has a co-leader to help bear the responsibilities of her growing organization. Hillary Potts, a junior at OHS, just underwent spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis in the past year and was inspired to get more involved with the group after that.
“I think it helped a lot that I knew other people that had the same surgery … just talking to people about it,” she said.
The Curve Scoliosis is also getting involved in other service projects, including Wrapped With Love, for which the group is partnering with SHIFT Scoliosis to make blankets for patients in local hospitals who are undergoing treatment for scoliosis.
To keep up to date with upcoming events and more, visit thecurvescoliosis.com.