“We believe children are the most amazing people on earth - and that drives us to do everything we can do to live up to the privilege of caring for them.” This is the mantra of the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota and the driving force behind one selfless Blugold’s service-learning project.
Abby Rose, a third year psychology major and family studies minor, completed her final fifteen hours of service-learning through the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota. Over the span of winter break, Abby volunteered her time as a support system for ill children and their families. As having a sick child in the hospital is an emotionally taxing and time consuming experience, Abby worked to spend time with the children during moments when their parents couldn’t be by their side. “If the parents weren’t able to stay the whole day or they needed to run errands, it was my job to spend time with the children and make sure they’re having an enjoyable time. Just having someone with them makes a big difference,” Abby says of her duties at the hospital. Abby’s support for the children ranged anywhere from playing board games and watching movies to holding them as they fell asleep. Abby states that her main focus was to, “keep them entertained and make sure they never had to feel alone.”
Part of what makes Abby’s service project all the more impactful is her willingness to take on an issue that many people choose not to face. “People know that bad things happen to children, but a lot of times people choose not to admit what it’s really like … [the experience] reminds you that these kids are so resilient and so strong and every once in a while they just need a break. It’s an indescribable feeling to know that I am able to be here for these children,” Abby says. However, it isn’t only the lives of children that Abby has been able to impact. The parents of these ill children have also reaped the benefits of Abby’s service, “there have been moments where parents have hugged me and thanked me for allowing them to take 30 minutes to run errands. It’s really moving to see how spending just an hour with their child can mean so much for the family.” Abby noted that it wasn’t until moments like these that she realized how impactful her service-learning project really was.
When asked about her most notable experience during her project at the children’s hospital, Abby recalled time she spent with an eleven year old patient whose family wasn’t available to spend much time with her at the hospital. “We’d sit together for hours and do art activities and watch movies, and at the end of our time together she’d always make sure I was going to come back the next day. On my last day, she gave me a gift and told me that she doesn’t get to talk to people that often. It made me realize that my time spent with these children is a nice escape from their environment.”
Overall, through service-learning, Abby was able to make an enormous impact on her community and change people’s lives for the better. It’s projects like Abby’s that remind us of the importance of service-learning and just how fragile life can be. Abby’s project also serves to remind us that, after all, “children are the most amazing people on earth.”