This originally appeared in a recent issue of Children's Hospitals Today
This teen advisory council provides a viewpoint on hospital life from older patients.
By Kaitie Marolf
The parents at 2016 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day (FAD) were curious about the group of teenagers who had come to the event without parents. A 6-year-old and her mother approached 17-year-old Capri Reese from Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. The girl’s mom explained that, like Reese, her daughter had sickle cell anemia and wanted to meet her because of her evident happiness and successes despite her medical challenges. “To know I have that kind of impact on someone was inspiring,” Reese says. “I never viewed myself that way. I thought I was just another person dealing with something. To see that little girl thought it was so much more made the moment stand out to me.”
Reese and three other members of the Levine Children’s Hospital Teen Advisory Council attended FAD with Heather Silva, the child life and creative arts manager at Levine, and Mike Daly, Levine’s family centered care coordinator. The council members were among the oldest patient attendees. Daly and Silva say watching the council members share their stories with their legislators on Capitol Hill, interact with younger children and talk with parents confirmed the success of their two and a half year venture with the council. Silva also says that attending the visits independently impacted how the teens spoke to the legislators. “They were able to be honest whereas teens sometimes don’t want to talk in front of their parents. They don’t want to upset them or hurt their feelings,” she says. “These teens could speak from their hearts.”