San Diego Curvy Girls chapter supports girls with scoliosis
Two local teenagers are leading the San Diego chapter of an organization called Curvy Girls, a group that supports girls aged 6-22 who are diagnosed with scoliosis, a spinal deformity.
Wanda Young, a rising senior at Canyon Crest Academy, serves as a co-leader of the local chapter with Sophia Insogna, a sophomore at Cathedral Catholic High School. Wanda, who lives in Carmel Valley, was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 12, at the beginning of her seventh grade year. Sophia, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, was diagnosed when she was 9. Both girls wear braces and practice physical therapy to help to stabilize their curves.
“I struggled a lot with my scoliosis because I didn’t know anyone else that had it,” Wanda said of her middle school years.
Wanda and Sophia said when they were younger, they both worried about what their classmates at school would think and tried to hide their braces under sweatshirts or jackets.
Wanda found out about Curvy Girls from a flyer in the waiting room of her doctor’s office. She learned that New Yorker Leah Stoltz founded the organization in 2006 when she was 14 years old as a way to help girls just like her who felt different, frustrated about wearing a brace or worried about having surgery. While the back brace supports their physical bodies, Curvy Girls serves as an emotional brace, to help girls feel better about themselves. From Stoltz’s original group, there are now groups that meet throughout the country and the world.
Wanda decided to start the first-ever San Diego chapter two years ago, which is how she met Sophia. Their local chapter is still growing and includes 10 girls from across San Diego County. The most positive message Sophia shares with the other girls is: “Scoliosis is a part of your life, it doesn’t define you.”
Usually the group meets at someone’s home once a month but now, due to the pandemic, they are holding meetings virtually on Zoom. While there is time for parents to connect, Curvy Girls is meant for peer to peer discussions and activities. Just as there are all types of curves, everyone’s scoliosis journey is different, Sophia said. The girls talk about their experiences, focus on topics such as body image, healthy choices and mental wellness, and participate in activities such as making vision boards. At one recent meeting, the group did an exercise asking each girl to complete the sentence “I love my body because…”
“This group has helped me a lot, even though I’m toward the end of my brace stage,” Wanda said. “We want girls to know that they are not alone and scoliosis is not the end of the world. It can positively effect your life.”
To learn more, email SanDiego@CurvyGirlsScoliosis.com.
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