What's Up Wednesday -- Leanne
#WhatsUpWednesday is our chance to hear from the teens who are involved with the Speak Now for Kids community. This week’s post will focus on Leanne, the 16-year-old founder of Positive Impact for Kids, a non-profit which raises funds to help hospital staff better meet the emotional and physical needs of their pediatric patients.
So, Leanne…what’s up?
Why do I advocate?
I advocate to ensure people have equal access and rights. I engage in philanthropy because I never want anyone to feel the anxiety I felt waiting for cardiac test results. I appreciate the value of supporting others through their most difficult days.
Person I find most inspirational
Josh Sundquist inspires me because he has overcome significant health challenges. At age 9 his leg was amputated due to a malignant tumor. He has taken a positive approach to coping with his disability and is currently a motivational speaker and author. Through my own health issues I am inspired by his positive coping methods, ability and drive to help others despite his own loss.
What makes me unique
At age 12, I created my non-profit, Positive Impact for Kids, to decrease the pain and anxiety of hospitalized children and teenagers. I help hospital staff meet the emotional needs of their pediatric patients by providing them with iPads and other items from pediatric hospital wish lists. As a 16-year-old teenager with a chronic heart condition I am very aware of and sensitive to the needs of hospitalized children. I work very hard to be a role model while encouraging and empowering other teens to engage in philanthropy work.
What jam gets me up when I’m down
I listen to various upbeat pop songs to lighten my mood when I am feeling down.
What have I overcome?
I was born with Aortic Valve Stenosis; a heart condition that narrows my aortic valve, preventing proper blood from flowing. At some point in my life I will need a valve transplant. I used to be a nationally ranked jump roper, competitive swimmer and gymnast but was unexpectedly told by my cardiologist, at age 12, to immediately stop sports because it was life-threatening. At the time, my world revolved around working out and intense training. Upon losing the ability to compete in sports I became extremely devastated and depressed. I lost my life purpose and tried looking at the situation from many perspectives trying to find a possible positive outcome. I overcame a large life adjustment that continues to affect my day-to-day life.
What do I want the world to know about my condition?
There are varying degrees of Aortic Valve Stenosis that create different physical and emotional challenges for people diagnosed with this condition.
If I could change the world, I would....
Bring out happiness in individuals. I would encourage people to give back to their communities and causes they are passionate about. I think it is important for people to act on issues they want changed rather than just talking about it.
Who, or what, is my biggest supporter?
My friends and family are my largest largest supporters because they offer help or advice in any situation and encourage me to grow and challenge myself.
What does my children’s hospital mean to me?
My children’s hospital represents safety and compassion for me. I know that they want to keep me in my best health and I feel that I am in good hands from the moment I walk in the door.
How do I plan to give back to the world?
I plan to continue my philanthropy for the rest of my life. Since founding my non-profit in 2011, I have raised over $63,000 and donated to 83 hospitals, at least one in every state. I have donated 94 iPads used for education, distraction and socialization. Other hospital requested items I have donated include: gift cards, movies, laptops, crafts, gaming systems, iPods, video games and more. I want to further this mission and create an even larger impact on the pediatric hospital experience for patients being treated in the United States. For more information on my organization: www.positiveimpactforkids.org
What do I want to be when I grow up?
I want to be a psychiatrist when I grow up so I can continue to improve the quality of life for individuals while practicing medicine.