ENCINITAS — For young accident victims with facial burns, the pain never really stops. The stares, name-calling, teasing and cruelty of their peers create difficulty for this special group of survivors.Lesia Cartelli knows this is true, because she lived through it herself. Her desire to heal from a serious burn injury over 50 percent of her face and body at the age of 9 in a natural gas explosion, encouraged her to create Angel Faces, an Encinitas-based, non-profit for girls who suffer similar disfiguring burns and other traumatic injuries.
This year, a retreat is scheduled at Glen Ivy Resort in Corona, June 23 through June 29. During the week-long, intensive retreat, survivors hear first-hand from Cartelli about her injuries and the long road to recovery. The young women work closely with experts and meet others with similar struggles. They learn to use new tools that will help them become more confident and able to embrace what the world hands them. Most important of all, they are empowered and given hope that they can create the life they desire.
“The retreat is only one small component,” Cartelli said. “We see the fruits of our labor when the girls go back home. We receive several calls and e-mails from the parents and medical centers about how confident and content their daughter/patient is since she has returned — she joined a sports or academic team at school or now is going to prom, or interviewing for a first job, ending their social death.”
This year the girls are coming from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orlando, Tampa, Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, Indianapolis, Portland, West Virginia and even England.
Angel Faces’ mission is to provide healing retreats and ongoing support for adolescent girls and young women with burn/trauma injuries to achieve their optimum potential and develop meaningful relationships for themselves, their families, and their communities. In addition to art therapy and private, corrective-cosmetic sessions, the program provides licensed therapists to help the girls through their loss and trauma issues, and provides the girls with strategies to handle staring and teasing. The goal of Angel Faces is to offer a physical, spiritual, and emotional transformation so each girl walks away with a new confidence and a hopeful outlook toward the future with the skills to be excited about their life. For more information, visit angelfacesretreat.org.