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NHS Student Proves The ‘Power Of A Wish’



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A Newtown High School student’s “wish” has created a newly furnished space for Unified Program students to enjoy.

NHS senior Cameron Powers, who has cystic fibrosis, chose to use her one wish granted by Make-A-Wish Connecticut to give back to her school, and the choice happened, according to the organization, at a time when 150 wishes have had to be postponed.

Since December, a room on the first floor of the high school has been undergoing a transformation, overseen by Make-A-Wish Connecticut. The room now boasts blue and gold details, a foosball table, a ping-pong table, chairs, tables, and a piece of art that has the words, “Our family is complete when everyone is included.”

As Cameron walked into Newtown High School on the evening of October 16 she was surrounded by her family members. At the same time, down one hallway Make-A-Wish Connecticut representatives, NHS special education teacher Jill Gonski, NHS Principal Dr Kimberly Longobucco, and Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal were waiting for her to turn the corner and walk toward the newly finished room.

A red carpet was set up with balloons attached to gold stanchions and everyone was eager to celebrate Cameron.

A sign read, “Cam, Happy wish day.” A cake was decorated with the words, “May all of your wishes come true” in blue lettering.

Then Cameron walked by the supporters and well-wishers, strolling down the red carpet set up just for her.

Longobucco thanked her on “behalf of the whole school” for giving a space for students to enjoy for years.

When Cameron pulled away a piece of paper to reveal the name of the new room, the gathered supporters leaned around a corner to watch. The new sign reads, “Unified Lounge. Est 9/2020. Donated by Cameron Powers.”

Then Cameron cut a blue ribbon hung across the room’s door and opened the door wide, revealing a bright room. The faces and voices of friends could be seen and heard coming from a flat screen television mounted to the far wall of the room: They were watching the reveal, live.

Make-A-Wish Connecticut, according to the organization, creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. It seeks to bring every eligible child’s wish to life because a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment journey. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. Together, generous donors, supporters, staff, and volunteers across the state currently grant wishes.

It was a little overwhelming for everyone in the room, as tears were visible on some faces and smiles, especially Cameron’s, beamed behind face masks.

“To be so selfless is a wonderful thing,” Rosenthal said of Cameron’s choice to use her wish to create a space for others.

Cameron, a member of the high school’s basketball team, has been involved with the NHS Unified Program. Her goal, according to Make-A-Wish Connecticut, was to create a space where the Unified Program members can hang out together in a fun, relaxing environment. To design her lounge — which used to be the school’s Math and Science lounge — Cameron surveyed the Unified members and worked very closely with the school’s principal and a special education teacher to create the perfect space.

“I really love working with the Unified and special needs students in my Tools for Living class,” Cameron explained in an e-mail following the event. “Being a part of these programs has impacted me in so many ways. I love how it feels to mentor other students, and I wanted there to be a better place for the special needs students and teachers to gather and be with other peers throughout the day. Currently, they are just in a regular classroom and having this space will give them more options and access to another environment that is more comfortable and homey.”

Cameron said she hopes the room is used by all students in the school.

“I want it to be an inclusive space where anyone, disability or not, will be able to come together to talk, play, relax, and perhaps do some school work,” wrote Cameron. “I hope for it to be a place where kindness comes first. A place where everyone is welcome and that whoever is using it feels like they are a part of a community, a part of our school family.”

She is excited the room will be used for “years to come,” and hopes it provides students a place to feel “better, safe, and comfortable while they are at school.”

Cameron also said she is grateful Make-A-Wish Connecticut helped “make my wish come true,” along with Longobucco and Gonski, “for helping me throughout the entire process.”

“There were so many people that helped,” Cameron said. “I will in turn pay this forward and really want to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the future as I truly understand ‘the power of the wish.’ An act of kindness can turn into many acts of kindness and our world can really use that right now.”

NHS senior Cameron Powers leans in for a hug from her mother, Patty Powers, moments after entering the new Unified Lounge on October 16.
The Powers family, from left, Shane, Riley, Patty, Cameron, and Steve stand in the center of the new Unified Lounge on October 16. —Bee Photos, Hallabeck
Cameron Powers enters NHS’s new Unified Lounge for the first time.
The gathered group enters the newly revealed Unified Lounge at NHS as Cameron Powers, third from left, sees it for the first time.
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