Curvy Girls scoliosis network leads awareness walk

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Reina Makimura

Led by Scotch Plains Fanwood High School junior Gianna Calligy, the Curvy Girls network in New Jersey is set to lead an awareness walk through Oak Ridge Park in Clark, New Jersey. Curvy Girls is an international network of support groups for girls with scoliosis, founded by Leah Stoltz. The groups provide emotional support from peers and empowers girls through education and acceptance.
Scoliosis is the curvature of the spine, which can range from mild – needing no treatment – to severe – which may require surgery. In addition to the curving of the spine, scoliosis can cause nerve damage and cardiac and lung issues. The cause is often unknown, but it can be caused by genetic disorders. Scoliosis often comes with emotional challenges as well as physical, which is how groups like the Curvy Girls help patients.
“Curvy Girls helped me know what to expect before my surgery and helped m[y] recovery, physically and emotionally, after my surgery,” Calligy said. “The girls in my group had similar experiences, and that was good to know.”
Calligy has led the New Jersey chapter of Curvy Girls since she was fourteen, six years after being diagnosed with scoliosis herself. She wore a back brace until she was 15, however this treatment was unsuccessful and she recently had spinal fusion surgery. Spinal fusion surgery connects two or more vertebrae of the spine together, preventing further curvature.
As the leader of the New Jersey chapter of Curvy Girls, Calligy hosts monthly meetings to bring patients together, visits fellow Curvy Girls members in the hospital and works to raise awareness about scoliosis. She also conducts annual walks to raise awareness. One walk in particular, with cooperation from another organization, was successful enough to sponsor the life saving spinal fusion of a child in Ghana.
“The goal of the walk is to raise awareness for Scoliosis,” Calligy said. “The best way to support patients is through awareness. The more people know about scoliosis, the more likely they are to be compassionate towards a friend who was newly diagnosed.”
The 2018 “Straight Walk with Curvy Girls” is set for June 2, in Oak Ridge Park in Clark, New Jersey.