ECCO Conference Centre in Tønder, Denmark, is always a busy place. However, this week, ECCO’s headquarters was full of children’s laughter. 30 children with heart conditions were invited to spend four days with ECCO and the Danish Heart Association to network, challenge themselves and simply have fun.
One of the key goals with the summer camp is to introduce them to other children who face some of the same challenges as they know from themselves. Looking from the outside, the 30 children at the camp look like any other group of kids. The only difference is the fact that they are born with a heart condition, and at an early age have been introduced to surgery, restricted play and medicines.
Snakes, fire eating and walking on broken glass
During their four days in Tønder, the children were involved in activities that were fun, challenging and designed to give them an opportunity to get to know themselves in unusual situations and identify their strengths. The end goal was to enable the children to leave the camp with a sense of being empowered. Rikke Morthorst, Project Manager with the Danish Heart Association, explains: “The kids are invited to try a lot of different things that require courage, e.g. to hold a snake, eat fire and walk on broken glass. It may sound like an unusual approach to a fun summer camp, but it is all part of a bigger plan to challenge the children to understand their own boundaries and find the confidence in trying new things, or in saying ‘no’. The children here have such a potential, and sometimes, they just need a little push to realise what they are actually capable of doing,” explains Rikke Morthorst.
All of the activities in the ECCO summer camp have been selected to give the children a good start to the summer and offer them a playful, safe environment to grow and have fun with each other. Judging from the many smiling faces, hugs and the constant talking in groups on their last day in Tønder, the children accomplished just that.
The ECCO summer camp is the first held for the children without a parent. “We host many events for the children and their families, but a summer camp for the children alone is a first time experience for us. And it has turned out to be a success. The children really enjoy being away from home just for a short while and enjoy the freedom it is to spend four days together with other youngsters,” says Rikke Morthorst.
ECCO wants to make a difference
To ECCO, the cooperation with the Danish Heart Association is an excellent opportunity to explore one of ECCO’s core values, CARE, to children who have had a rough start to life. Vivi Okholm, ECCO’s driving force behind the camp, explains: “My colleagues and I truly appreciate this opportunity to provide the framework for a summer camp together with the Danish Heart Association. In ECCO, we have a strong wish to make a difference where we can, and therefore, we have a longstanding cooperation with the Danish Heart Association.”
The ECCO summer camp has been brought to life because of the thousands of people who last year participated in ECCO Walkathon, walking in support of a good cause and collecting money for the SOS Children’s Villages and the Danish Heart Association. “Typically, the donations are dedicated to research, but this year we decided to donate part of the money to a summer camp. Judging from the children’s immediate reactions, I am not afraid to say that we accomplished what we have been working to achieve: the somewhat quiet group we met a few days ago has turned into a lively, talkative, energetic bunch, ready to exchange experiences and plan for future meetings. The many hugs, smiles and laughs are all the thank we need,” says Vivi Okholm.
ECCO is one of the world’s leading shoe brands, combining style and comfort. ECCO’s success is built on products with a great fit and top-quality leathers. ECCO owns and manages every aspect of the value chain from tanneries and shoe manufacturing to wholesale and retail activities. ECCO’s products are sold in 90 countries from over 2,200 ECCO shops and more than 14,000 sales points. ECCO is family-owned, founded in Denmark in 1963, and employs more than 21,000 people worldwide.