On World Youth Day, October 2002, we visited St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. The following are letters written by three of the Program’s teenagers:
By Meg H. (Junior/St Agnes)
When I arrived with the Module at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, I had no idea what kind of effect it would have on me. I was anxious to go, yet kind of uneasy at the same time, not knowing what to expect or what kind of condition the kids would be in. I wondered what I should do or how should I act. However, once I saw the kids, I was warmly greeted and my fear quickly vanished.
After helping some wheelchair bound children come from the chapel to the rec-room, I spent the day giving tattoos to children of all ages and with different health conditions. It was amazing to see how something as simple as a temporary tattoo could bring so much happiness to a child. After I finished with the tattoos, I joined some other Module members and began talking with some of the sick patients that were my own age. I saw how the patients were just like me and wanted the same things I did, to just talk and hang out. I saw how much we really had in common, like things such as interests in movies, music, and TV.
I had so much fun at St. Mary’s and it was a truly moving experience. I even hope to go back there and volunteer again, something I would not have even considered if it had not been for my trip there with the Module.
Stephanie S. (Freshman/Mary Louis)
St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital was the most memorable experience I have ever had. I reflect on the bright smiles shown upon the children’s faces when they saw us walk in to visit them. I had taken the opportunity to go visit the bed bound children. The kids I visited, who I was more drawn too, were the kids my own age and a bit older. I related easily with them and kept them company.
This opportunity made me realize that I should be grateful for what I am given. If I ever had the opportunity to visit again I would definitely go and visit all of the new friends I have made there. Not only did I put a smile on both of our faces, it made me feel like a better person. I know I have made a difference in another person’s life.
Jeff C. (Junior/Holy Cross)
The trip I made to St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital with the Module Youth Program is something I won’t soon forget. Actually, I seriously doubt I’ll ever forget it. It all began on the World Youth Day that the Module had in October 2002. The day started out as usual, but then we found that there was a really special activity planned for later in the day. This was further supported by the fact that we had to sign up for activities such as reading and games. After a quick appraisal of my options, I chose the one I knew I could do: reading. “Harmless enough”, I thought to myself. A bit later on, when I found out that we were going to spend time with the children at St. Mary’s hospital, my heart jumped into my throat. I don’t like hospitals all that much. Sometimes they can be so cold and uninviting. Not to mention that such misfortunes as death and injury occur at hospitals every day. The only thing I could think of now was “How am I going to handle this?”
Now I had two choices. Either I said I didn’t want to go or I went. I don’t exactly have a major phobia of hospitals, but as I said, I just don’t like them. Plus it was a children’s hospital and seeing sick and debilitated kids really pulls at my heartstrings. I decided that the best thing to do was put on a brave face and join in. I was apprehensive all throughout the ride there. I’d be lying if I said I was totally confident. I mean, how do you handle seeing children cope with problems far worse than your average common cold or flu? Do you accept them warmly or do you run away screaming because you can’t take it? This continuously ran through my mind on the way to the hospital. But I’m not the kind of person who shuns others and doesn’t feel guilty about it. I figured that it’d be much better to accept the kids and not push them away. Not only would it be better for me, but it would be better for them. They wouldn’t have to feel isolated or locked away from society. This was a prime opportunity to show them that people did care about them outside of their doctors, nurses and parents.
We arrived at the hospital and were led up to the recreation room. We stood around different areas of the room, separating into our different groups. The reading group pulled some chairs and a couch together and got out the books we’d decided to read to the kids. A couple of members of the group left to read books to the children who could not get out of their beds in their rooms. The children who were more mobile were brought into the room slowly. Almost immediately, my fears went away. I dove into the whole thing headfirst. I read with sincerity and care even if the child I was reading to wasn’t paying attention or couldn’t comprehend what I was saying. It filled me with happiness and positive emotions that I can’t exactly put into words. Let’s just say it was a very enriching, enlightening experience not only for me, but also for all who came that day.
I left St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital that day feeling good about myself and feeling even better about what I had done. Just knowing I had made a difference in someone’s life, no matter how minimal or large it was, made me feel like a better person. That’s the kind of reward that totally knocks out anything made by Sony or Nike. Sometimes the intangible matters far more than the tangible. It’s the thought that counts. It was a new experience for me and it shows me that not all new experiences are bad. They help us grow emotionally and or spiritually. And if that trip to that hospital did anything for me, it was help me really grow emotionally and spiritually. If you could measure the height of those two things like you could measure how tall I am, you’d come out to about ten feet tall.”