Erick Camarena was born with a rare neuro-genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. The disorder causes profound psychological and developmental impairment. Erick is 12 years old, but has the mental age of an infant.
As part of the disease, Erick grins constantly, although he is emotionally impassive. Until two years ago, Erick could walk. Now he must be pushed in a wheelchair that accommodates his lanky frame.
Erick’s family has lived in a home in southwest Detroit for 11 years. His father Jorge works at a Detroit golf course and maintains the grounds there. The family home is meticulously maintained, both inside and out. A rose garden in front is now in full bloom with red blossoms.
To take Erick to school and back, Erick’s mother Ana must get his wheelchair down and up five concrete stairs off the front porch. Erick’s younger brother Diego and his young niece Gabriela help out.
Erick and his family are part of the Developmental Disabilities (DD) program at Southwest Solutions. The program is headed by Orlando Villegas. Orlando has been helping the family connect with the resources they need to cope with issues related to Erick’s condition. Orlando has also been helping Ana work through the guilt that a mother often feels when a child is born with a severe developmental disability.
As part of Neighborhood Beautification Day 2010, volunteers will be building a wheelchair ramp for Erick at the family home. The effort is spearheaded by JC Modernization, a home improvement company based in Warren.
“The ramp is going to be a big help,” Ana says. “Erick is growing and it is harder and harder to take him up and down the stairs. We are so thankful for this great gift.”
The 4th Annual Neighborhood Beautification Day in southwest Detroit takes place on Saturday, June 5. Volunteers, Southwest Solutions staff and area residents will be working on a variety of projects, including planting, mural painting, graffiti removal, and sprucing up parks and gardens.