Posted on Apr 16,2018
Compassionate. Committed. Career driven.
Chiara, a volunteer for Child Life at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, is certainly all of these–which is impressive for someone who hasn’t even graduated high school yet.
In and outside of school, she spends a great deal of time serving her community. As a high school senior, Chiara has been able to become a certified emergency medical responder and once a week she works as an intern at the Safety Harbor Fire Department. She also gives her time to several kid-focused organizations, including Johns Hopkins All Children’s.
On the weekends she can be found in the Child Life Activity Center and during the week she picks up a shift in the Emergency Center. In both places Chiara’s main task is to have fun.
The Activity Center is filled with toys, board games and activities for patient families. Older kids can spend time there without a parent. It is a refuge for those needing a break from the stress of medical procedures–patients, siblings and parents alike. When the room is busy, it’s Chiara’s time to shine, playing with and being a friend to those needing some company. Sometimes that means being someone’s "player two" in a video game or lending a listening ear as they work on a craft project.
In the Emergency Center, she helps facilitate a scaled-down version of the Activity Center via a mobile cart loaded with toys and activities. Chiara also will sit and wait with patients who may come in without a parent. It’s a small gesture that means a lot.
“Being in the hospital can be scary and sometimes kids don’t want to deal with doctors or nurses but when you have a game or something fun for them, it changes everything,” Chiara explains. “Seeing their face light up when you offer a toy is priceless.”
Chiara is no stranger to spending time in the hospital. Diagnosed with a brain tumor at a young age, she already has had three surgeries, two of which have been under the care of Johns Hopkins All Children’s neurosurgeon Gerald Tuite, M.D. and neuro-oncologist Stacie Stapleton, M.D. Now, Chiara only needs to get an MRI once a year.
“When I was younger I always looked forward to coming here,” she adds. “I wanted to give back and create positive experience for other kids.”
Chiara’s drive to give back has been two-fold. Her eyes light up when she talks about positive experiences she has had with patients, but volunteering has helped her learn something too.
A career in the medical field has always been the plan for Chiara and this fall she will start the pre-nursing program at the University of South Florida. Through volunteering she has been able to take a first-hand look into the field and gain insight on what is really important–building relationships with patients and making sure they have the best hospital experience possible.
If you or your teen is interested in a volunteer position, visit hopkinsallchildrens.org/volunteer for more information.