Danielle Costello and Madelyn Skinner chose SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for their Senior Service project. The girls were assigned to the hospital’s Child Life Services department. The mission of the department is to advocate for the psychosocial, developmental, emotional and educational needs of all patients and families. Child Life Specialists strive to create a supportive environment, while helping empower patients and their families to make decisions affecting their care. “One of the things that was the most striking to me was how the kids were focused on being kids, even in the midst of really difficult circumstances,” said Danielle. Each morning, the girls received a list of patients needing bedside visits. “We met a little boy who was wheelchair bound,” said Madelyn. “He loved playing with toy airplanes, I will never forget when he looked up at us and asked if we knew that he rode in a helicopter.” The boy went on to tell the girls his story about being airlifted to Cardinal Glennon.
At times, the girls would make bedside visits to children in isolation and would have to wear gowns, gloves and masks. “Some of the kids were in the hospital for weeks or even months,” said Danielle. “Visits from volunteers or staff members are important because parents need to keep working and caring for their other kids through long hospital stays.”
The children and families the girls met were experiencing a variety of serious illness including cancer and liver transplant failure. “One thing that surprised me was how positive and grateful parents were even while being so worried about their children,” said Danielle. The girls were impressed with Cardinal Glennon’s commitment to providing care for kids regardless of the family’s ability to pay. “We were there during all of the excitement with Matt Holiday learning that the hospital was naming a wing after him and his wife. It was a very exciting time to be there,” said Madelyn.
Both Danielle and Madelyn agree that the Senior Service project experience is an opportunity for Althoff Catholic students to grow and mature. The girls feel as though they gained a better understanding a sense of compassion for the challenges and tragedies that many people in our community face.
Danielle Costello serves as a sacristan at Althoff Catholic and is involved in National Honor Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Spanish Club. She takes a full honors course load and plans to attend the University of Alabama majoring in biology/pre-med. Danielle hopes to become a Physician Assistant working in pediatrics.
Madelyn Skinner is involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Rotary and Spanish Club. She played tennis all four years and ended her senior season with an impressive fourth place doubles finish at the IHSA State tournament. Madelyn is unsure which college she will attend but plans to major in pre-med. Madelyn would like to become radiologist.