Nicklaus Children’s Hospital
Molly Schantz is a Sophomore at the Honors College of Florida International University. She is majoring in Political Science on the Pre-Law track. After she graduates from FIU, she would like to go to law school and eventually practice environmental law. She has always believed that travel and cultural experience is the best way to get an education and being in a class where she can learn about topics outside of her major while also being outside a classroom is her ideal honors class. Molly is currently enrolled in the Honors College Art Society Conflict course and will be graduating in the spring of 2022.
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is Miami’s local children’s hospital that is partnered with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH). CMNH is an organization that serves as an umbrella for its partnering hospitals and focuses on bettering patient experiences and providing hospitals with the resources they need to make any family feel safe and at home at the hospital. CMNH also partners with schools all around the country for an event called Dance Marathon. At FIU we call it Roarthon. Dance Marathon raises millions of dollars a year for CMNH and respective local children’s hospitals like Nicklaus. Being a part of Roarthon was how I got the opportunity to work with the hospital and found a passion for helping kids and their families that spend more time in the hospital than anywhere else.
62 patients enter a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital like Nicklaus every minute and the next steps for the children and their families are often unknown from that point on. I am fortunate enough to be healthy and able to care for myself as well as others. I think it is crucial for those who can help others in less fortunate situations, to do so. I love branching out from my major (political science) and putting my heart into activities and organizations that benefit the community and can give me life experiences regardless of what my career path is. I would have liked to volunteered with an art institution this semester as I did last semester, but due to COVID-19 I was not able to. I am glad I have the opportunity to talk about working with CMNH because it has become one of the biggest focuses in my life in the past year. I think it is important to find you personal ‘why’ for doing what you do and my ‘why’ for giving back to Nicklaus is to give kids the opportunity to not only have a future, but BE the future. I stick by my ‘why’ anytime I question why I do this or feel down in my own life. I have friends and family members that wouldn’t be alive without hospitals such as Nicklaus and everyone, sick or not sick, deserves the opportunity to live their life to the fullest and for many that is impossible without Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and the services that CMNH provide.
My specific position title within Roarthon was Family Relations Chair. That meant that I was the liaison between our dance marathon at FIU and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. It was my job to plan tours for students to help them better understand what they were giving back to as well as hosting events for kids and their families at the hospital in the Michael Fux Family Center. Prior to joining Roarthon, I had no real connection to CMNH, but being surrounded by peers who are passionate about servant leadership ignited my own passion for this cause and my specific position connected my directly with the hospital and gave me opportunities to volunteer at the hospital.
Once a month since October, I have scheduled and hosted events at the Michael Fux Family Center in Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. The family center is an area in the hospital for patients and their families to spend time in and have fun. There is a home movie theater, a room for arts and crafts, a laundry room, office space, game room, and more. The goal of the family center is to make families feel as at home as possible. Many families check in to the hospital one night and are there for weeks before they can go home. It is important to make sometimes inevitable circumstances into acceptable ones. Just because a child has to go through chemotherapy, doesn’t mean they should be stripped of their fun times and normal kid activities like watching movies or painting with friends. Volunteers and organizations can host activities in the family center in order to create variety for the patients have a constant programming schedule.
I organized a variety of events, but they all were arts and crafts related so that all ages could participate. My favorite event was right near Thanksgiving. We went to the family center and had set up an activity for kids to make hand turkey drawings, but after about 10 minutes they all just wanted to draw freely. There were parents, siblings, cousins, and the patients participating in the activity and for that hour, everyone seemed to forget they were in the hospital. Everyone was just having fun. Another activity we had was finger painting which brings out the inner child in everyone, including myself. Different student participants of Roarthon were brought to these events to create a stronger connection to CMNH and develop their own ‘whys’ as well as connect with patients and their families.
I learned so much from spending time at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and hope to continue next year. I will never forget the interactions I had with kids during these events. I learned more from the kids than I could ever teach them. My most memorable conversation was during the finger painting activity. I was sitting at a table with one young girl on my left and another young girl on my right. They both must have been under 7, but the girl on my right came in with an IV and had t be plugged into the wall by the nurse before she could being painting. She was wearing a hat to cover her bald head. The other girl told me that she was at the hospital waiting for her sister who was being treated at the time. We all were painting when the girl on my left told me she liked my hair and I said thank you, but didn’t think much of it. I told her I liked her hair and wished mine was curly like hers. The girl on my right then said “I wish I had hair, you both have such beautiful hair” and I immediately got emotional. I hadn’t even considered that she had lost all her hair due to chemo and how ignorant I must have sounded saying I wished my own hair was different. That was such a learning moment for me because I took a step back and remembered all the small things that I take for granted every day, including my hair. It was experiences like that which furthered my passion for helping these kids and doing what I could to give them the feeling of being a normal child no matter what situation they were in.
- “Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Florida.” Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, nicklauschildrens.childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org/.