We are so excited that you are reading this because that means that The Pattyn Project, an idea we have been shaping and preparing for the last year, is finally on its way to being fulfilled. As many of you know, our family has always had a passion for helping others. Sometimes we did it together, often we did it on our own, but always we aimed to reach out to those around us and build into their lives in any way we could. Imagine having everything that you recognize as normal taken away from you. Whether it be your hair, your ability to play outside, pick out your own clothes, or even to leave your own room. These are the types of normal behaviors many long term stay children’s hospital patients have to surrender throughout the course of their various diagnoses and treatments. When children face unforeseen illness or injury that results in hospitalization they can be easily compromised. Peace and serenity are defined in different ways for many children, but most would agree that a child’s room represents a place that they can call their own, a place where they are in control of their environment, a safe haven. From this realization, the vision for Pattyn Project was born.
The idea for The Pattyn Project specifically developed over a few years while Amy was volunteering at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Jessica was in Houston at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, completing a practicum as a prerequisite for an internship she would later complete to become a Certified Child Life Specialist. A Certified Child Life Specialist, or CCLS, is a person who works with hospitalized children to help teach them about the hospital, minimize their stress, help them cope with the hospital environment, provide family support, and promote development and as much normalcy as possible. Working in an oncology unit and later in Burn, Surgery, and Transplant, Jessica realized quickly how many children were spending significant amounts of time admitted to the hospital for extended stays. Jessica and Amy often talked about what they learned during their time in these hospitals and the ways they could have positive effects on these families. That is when the two got excited about transforming children's rooms into a space of their own, while providing them the opportunity to express themselves creatively. We saw this as a perfect opportunity to get to know patients and their families, find out what makes them tick, and bring a sense of comfort and home to a situation where they often feel out of control. Once we started talking about it, the whole family was sold out on the idea, offering to help in all the various areas where out talents would be needed. So here’s how we envision the process will go.
First, we will contact Child Life Specialists at children’s hospitals to determine patients on various units that would be considered extended stay, typically anything beyond 3 weeks. Then we will ask the patients various questions in an attempt to get to know them better such as, favorite colors, sports teams, things they like to do in their room, and other things of that nature. Next, we will go shopping for the rooms, bring it all back to the hospital, and transform what was before a sterile hospital room, into a small sanctuary that they can call their own for the time being. In addition, we plan to do a therapeutic art activity or craft with each patient that will be a part of their new room as well. By doing this, we allow them a chance for self expression, as well as a focal point in their room to remember their experience and regain a bit of their lost sense of control they are experiencing during this difficult time.
So as you can see, we have the passion, we just need the means to help these kids. We are setting our goal at $25,000. We felt this was a manageable number to start with, and after taking the time to do these first few rounds of rooms, we hope to be able to establish somewhat of a steady income for the project so we can expand to surrounding areas beyond Pittsburgh. We have set a budget for the cost of each room at $300. We also hope to use a small portion of the money for some of our start up costs, and hopefully some travel so we can expand to hospitals in surrounding states as soon as possible. We are so grateful for any and all donations and plan to share pictures and write ups of the rooms on our website so you can see the amazing effects of your gifts! We are in the process of seeking approval to become a non-profit 501(c)(3), in hopes of gaining a tax deductible status. If you do not feel called to support us monetarily, we hope that you will consider sharing our story, website, and social media accounts with people you know so we can continue to spread the word about this project that we believe can have such a profound positive effect on these kids!
In the end, we see this as a small thing we can do that can have a big impact on the lives of these patients. We want to foster a sense of hope in these families while they go through some truly unimaginable situations. We hope you will come alongside us, and we thank you in advance for your support!