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Keeping Young Minds Sharp While Bodies Heal

Nadia Howse (left) accepts a birthday gift from Annie Draeger, MEd, special education teacher, Child Life Services, during Howse's visit to Rush.

Nadia Howse was inspired to give back to Rush by her experience as a pediatric patient hospitalized at the Medical Center, when her mother made sure the three-year-old had books, computer toys and other resources to supplement her pre-school education.

“Since I could already read, my parents wanted to make sure I didn’t lose that skill,” Howse says. “Often, children who are in the hospital for extended periods of time run the risk of falling behind in their education.”

To help other children in similar situations, Howse formed Nadia’s Howse of Hope, a not-for-profit organization that provides educational devices for children who are hospitalized for extended periods of time. On Wednesday, Nov. 12, which also was her 16th birthday, she returned to Rush to donate a trove of laptop computers, iPods, iPads and video games for pediatric patients in the Rush Children’s Hospital. Howse also made a $1,600 donation to Rush’s Child Life Services program.

“It’s impressive that a girl her age identified this need and responded in such a meaningful way,” says Robyn Hart, MEd, director of Child Life Services, which offers children age-appropriate activities and education to help them cope with being hospitalized. “Enabling children to keep up with their school work has enormous value, and this kind of technology helps them connect with their teachers, helps them get their homework and do their homework, and keeps them on track. We’re very grateful to Nadia for her gift.”

Howse was hospitalized three times at Rush, twice for pneumonia and once for Kawasaki’s disease, a condition that affects children under the age of five and causes inflammation of the blood vessels. She was treated by Laxmi Narayan, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, who met Howse during her visit to Rush and gave her a birthday rose and balloon.

Inspired by her experience as a patient, Howse plans to become a doctor herself. The native of southwest suburban Frankfort already is a freshman biology major in the honors program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, having started college at 15. She also helps patients through Nadia’s Howse of Hope, which funds its donations from churches, friends, family and area businesses.

“Although I can’t serve patients (as a doctor) right now, I can help and preserve their knowledge base,” she says.

Read on for more philanthropy news.

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