Legacy Items Help Kids & Families Remember Their St. Jude Journey
A couple y ears ago, we were invited to go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for the St. Jude Country Cares conference. It's where a bunch of radio people get together and talk about all the new and exciting things going on at St. Jude and meet patients and their families.
The one thing that really hit home for me was the legacy items. Every child at St. Jude is asked to create legacy items for their future - whatever that may be. It is no secret that some children do not live past childhood and these legacy items help parents and families remember them. The legacy items also help children who do survive remember their journey at St. Jude.
The people who help guide create these Legacy items and work with patients at St. Jude are called Child Life Specialists. They are trained to help kids have as normal of a childhood as they can while at the hospital and work with them during the emotional impact of treatment, losing friends and being away from home.
What is Their Legacy?
When the Child Life Specialists help to develop a child's legacy, they focus on the below questions with even their smallest patients.
- Who am I?
- What do I look like?
- What do I like to do?
- How do I think?
- What do I believe?
- Who is important to me?
The Child Life Specialists also help the children to create pieces that they or their parents can keep that will help keep memories alive. For instance, each child receives a bead for everything they do at St. Jude - from shots and doctor's visits to No Mo Chemo parties. The kids put these beads on a long string and keep the Legacy Beads as a reminder of everything they go through at the hospital. Many families use it as Christmas tree garland.
Each Legacy piece is special to the child. The music specialists will create songs set to a child's heartbeat and art specialists will create footprints in plaster. These are tangible items that families can treasure forever.
What is Your Legacy?
Today, I challenge you to think about your legacy. What do you think? What do you believe in? What is important to you?
Childhood cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death among children and adolescents (ages 1 to 19 years) in the United States. I invite you to become a Partner in Hope and donate $19 a month to St. Jude. Leave a lasting legacy by helping fight cancer.