On November 6th, we celebrated a group of heroes, Hospital Heroes to be precise. These twenty-six individuals touch the lives of their patients and families in ways that go far beyond the scope of their already demanding jobs. These are therapists, nurses, surgeons, volunteers and program coordinators who advocate on behalf of their patients, inspire future generations to aspire to more and celebrate their heritage and their new-found homes in ways that are a shining example of all that is right with health care. What follows is our first in a series of Hospital Heroes profiles.
René Van Hoorn (program coordinator), Donna Glenn and Kathy Schmitt work together to bring a remarkable program to children and young adults – CRH Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp (JWSC). This annual event touches many lives and, with these three dedicated clinicians, has generated growing community support from more than 50 contributing organizations and individuals. It’s a week-long summer camp that campers, families, instructors, staff and volunteers look forward to all year.
René, Donna and Kathy understand the importance of role models for children in wheelchairs. The camp instructors are athletes, teachers, engineers, writers … and they use wheelchairs. They encourage and inspire campers to dream big, to challenge themselves, to see possibilities. For René’s team, this is the ultimate goal. Their work is all about improving quality of life for individuals with physical challenges — helping them discover the joy in recreational activity.
For many campers, JWSC offers a unique opportunity to experience activities like being in a pool, using scuba gear and kayaks. With CRH nurses onsite to provide medical aid, campers can increase their confidence and independence in a protected setting.
René recognized JWSC’s important role in serving mobility impaired children and championed the cause. She led efforts to transfer stewardship of the program to Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital when previous resources could no longer support it. For the seven years since, she and her team have attended to every detail to ensure positive experiences for campers — recruiting volunteers, instructors and counselors, arranging for travel and accommodations, and creating an award ceremony. During this one inspiring week, campers and their families often make friendships for a lifetime. JWSC, supported by Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, offers an experience that shapes futures, supports families, and contributes to the community’s appreciation of the worth and dignity of people with disabilities.