Julia Fleming, age 15, of Wyndmoor knows what it's like to be diagnosed with scoliosis and wear a back brace. That's why she founded The Curvy Girls of Philadelphia.

by Sally Cohen

It hasn’t exactly received a lot of publicity, but June is Scoliosis Awareness Month. Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person, most frequently females, has an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. On an x-ray, the spine of an individual with a typical scoliosis may look more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line.

It may be congenital, caused by anomalies present at birth or idiopathic, sub-classified as infantile, juvenile, adolescent or adult according to when onset occurred. Conventional treatment for scoliosis is through bracing and/or surgery. In an attempt to halt the progression of the curve, kids must wear a hard plastic torso brace for 23 hours a day until they are fonoshed growing.

Julia Fleming, 15, of Wyndmoor and a student at Penn Charter, knows what it’s like to be diagnosed with scoliosis and wear a back brace. Adolescence is a rough time, and adding the shame and embarrassment of wearing a brace to school is overwhelming to teens, which is why Julia is determined to help other girls get through this with peer support. Julia had the opportunity to attend Scoliosis Rehab in Wisconsin, where she learned exercises to strengthen her spine. She wants to share her knowledge with other “Curvy Families.”

Therefore, Julia has started “The Curvy Girls of Philadelphia,” the first Pennsylvania division of  the national Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group, which was recently featured on Nickelodeon’s TeenNick HALO (Helping and Leading Others) Awards. Started four years ago by then 14-year-old Leah Stoltz of Long Island, New York, The Curvy Girls brings girls together to support one another at monthly meetings, hospital visits, and through phone and internet contact.

“I want to carry on the message by reaching out to other girls,” Julia told us last week. “I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to help other girls and make them feel better about themselves and who they are, both inside and out! We will be holding her first meeting on Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. at a location in Wyndmoor”

For more information about the national organization, visit www.curvygirlsScoliosis.com. For more information about the local chapter started by Julia and/or the meeting on Aug. 7, email curvygirlsphilly@gmail.com