Updated: Jun 5
It was the spring of my 8th grade year when COVID shuttered schools. Our teachers tried to keep us working. My English teacher assigned a “Passion Project.” We were to research and advocate for a problem we are passionate about. I researched the impact of isolation on hospitalized children and learned that 90% of children suffer mentally because of the hospitalization, aside from their primary diagnosis. I also learned that any socialization for hospitalized children led to dramatic improvements for the child, helped the family, and even helped the doctors deliver care. As a result of this research, I conceived the idea for Ivy Whale - a group of students who could aid in the socialization of hospitalized children. Fast-forward one year, and COVID continued to dominate our lives, but Zoom had helped keep us connected. As I began to contemplate my Girl Scout Gold Award, I realized that I could create Ivywhale.com, and bring hospitalized children together with students through virtual meetings. I created a website, recruited friends, and talked with lots of doctors, patients and parents of patients. I quickly realized that, particularly because of COVID, there were children who felt isolated even though they were not hospitalized. Furthermore, I also realized that not only were hospitalized children traumatized by being hospitalized, but the siblings of those hospitalized children also needed time to “just be kids.” So the mission of Ivy Whale changed to include hospitalized or otherwise isolated children and their siblings. I believe that bringing patients and kids together can foster friendship, and compassion. It increases the human connection, and shows both the student and patient that kids are kids, no matter where they live or what their situation is.