Deanna and Nicole share why Next Step works for them


Editor's Note: Deanna and Nicole first met at a Next Step Campference, Next Step's residential program. Below is their conversation about Next Step and why it works.


Deanna: "I remember when I walked into my first Campference. I told a Next Step staff member, "I don't think I can do this." That was when I was introduced to you, Nicole. We started to talk and all I can say is that day I found one of my best friends. During that first Campference I still had tons of moments of uncertainty, but I also had these new connections and when those harder moments happened, I wasn't alone in them anymore."

Nicole: "I knew I wanted to connect with new people coming in, especially if they were leery - because that's what others did for me when I first arrived at Next Step. Deanna, I could tell you were at a breaking point - and I could totally relate as I had the same worries while on my way to my first Campference."

Deanna: "And now, I can't imagine my life without Next Step. It is the only place where I truly feel like I belong. I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not; I don't feel embarrassed or judged for "being sick". At Next Step my peers have taught me that it's okay to be yourself. Your WHOLE SELF, not just the self/masks you put on for other people."

Nicole: "We put on the masks because of the fear of how others will see us and treat us - but at Next Step, I've learned that our vulnerabilities are our realities - and accepting those realities, our whole self, actually becomes a strength."

Deanna: "Next Step is unique because the young adults are a part of creating the programming to make sure we will connect with it. This gives us a voice to express what we want our community to look like - this is very empowering."

Nicole: "At Next Step, we get to choose real topics that matter to us when designing a program- managing college, dating, self-care, independence, to name just a few. This process helps us wade through our experiences of chronic illness - and then create and take action on how to better navigate our lives while managing our health." 

Deanna: "I think the best way to describe what Next Step staff did for me is to say they helped me find my voice. They guided me through the steps needed to discover my own growth path giving me the opportunity to take risks and fail safely. I learned how to identify my comfort, stretch, and panic zones and how to get from comfort to stretch and speak up when I'm nearing the panic zone."

Nicole: "Sharing my story about my chronic illness puts me into my stretch zone, but if I don't share, I am not using my story for the good it has - letting my Next Step peers know that they are not alone."

Deanna: "Next Step is one-of-a-kind."

Nicole: "I have never been a part of anything like Next Step."

Deanna & Nicole: "Next Step pulled us out of isolation. Their community gave us confidence, knowledge and life skills that help us manage our illness while moving forward in our lives and reaching important milestones as we transition to adulthood. The Next Step community changed our lives.

PLEASE DONATE to the 2018 Next Step Annual Appeal and keep the Next Step community growing so other young people, like us, will know that they are not alone and will have hope for their future."

Thank you for supporting Next Step's community. Happy Holidays!

Warm Regards,

Deanna & Nicole