Playroom demonstrates teen’s giving spirit
by Alex Jackson
The existence of a hospitalized teen-ager feels like imprisonment. No social life. No friends. No going to a favorite, fun place.
Jessica Nelson and Darius Young cut the ribbon representing the grand opening of the new teen area in the Children's Hospital Atrium Aug. 12. Helping celebrate the opening is Alicia Rose Victorius Foundation representative Peter DiAntonio, far right, registered nurse Sonja Muckenfuss, and John Sanders.
That’s how Alicia Rose, a young girl from Vorhees, N.J., felt after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. When Alicia was being treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, there was no area for teens to play and talk with other people their age. Despite living with cancer, Alicia always had a giving spirit and tried to make someone else’s day a little better, according to her family and friends. Alicia lost her 13-month battle with cancer, but her legacy lives on through her family’s efforts, and now, a place for hospitalized teenagers.
To memorialize their daughter, Alicia’s parents started the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, which raises money to create teen centers in children’s hospitals across the country.
Bright, colorful and stocked with things to entertain children, the MUSC Children’s Hospital Atrium playroom strives to make a young patient’s stay more enjoyable. Until recently, the focus had been on very young patients. “Teen-agers are often an age group that is left out,” said John Sanders, Children’s Hospital administrator.
But thanks to a generous donation by Alicia’s memorial foundation, a new teen area was created in the Atrium. The grant funded the latest in electronic games and equipment, plus some new furniture.
“It’s important for teens to live like teens,” said Sandra Oberman, director of Child Life.
“The teens absolutely love the new area,” said Lindsay Gallagher, certified child life specialist.
During the grand opening on Aug. 12, several patients and staff members participated in the dedication, including Jessica Nelson, 17, and Darius Young, 18, who are patients in the Pediatric Sickle Cell Program.
Both Jessica and Darius expressed appreciation to foundation representa-tives Peter DiAntonio and Donna Tripodi for having a fun place to go while in the hospital. The children made particular note of the new Nintendo Wii video game system, which they plan to play often.
In addition to providing fun, games and an escape from the confines of hospital rooms, Child Life staff manage a teen lunch in the Atrium each Wednesday where the teens can talk and share their experiences with each other.
For information or to supportthe Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, visit http://www.victoriousfoundation.org.
Friday, Aug. 29, 2008