Giving hope to kids in need

Pediatric wellness kits ‘a big hit’ in Forsyth County

Novant Health team members embarked on a project to bring hope and resources to Forsyth County families in need last fall.

While the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced all of us to adjust to a new way of life, this year has been especially hard for parents and children in underserved communities. The physicians and nurses at Novant Health Waughtown Pediatrics saw those challenges firsthand. Parents were struggling with more than just the threat of COVID-19; they were affected by complex issues such as job losses, technological disparity and child care uncertainty. To help, the team at Waughtown Pediatrics providers reached out to their colleagues at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center for help.  

“All of the stressors and concerns that parents had in normal, everyday life were just compounded by COVID-19,” said Cheryl Freeman, women’s services project manager at Forsyth Medical Center. “They didn’t have the same physical support system. They didn’t have the same social support system, which is huge for these communities. So, we met and started thinking about what we could do to help.”

They decided to put together pediatric wellness kits and distribute them throughout the community. By the time they had finished, volunteers and team members had delivered kits to more than 1,000 children.

Funded with a donation from Novant Health Foundation, the kits consisted of string backpacks filled with journals, crayons, activity books, age-appropriate books, stress balls and jump ropes. Each kit contained helpful tips and tricks to help children manage stress during a most unusual school year, such as emphasizing a routine for bedtime and meals.

“Many kids are struggling with virtual learning,” Freeman said. “Some don’t have access to the Internet, or if they do, it may not be reliable for six hours a day for online learning. They don’t have the support or the friends you would normally make. Young children need that socialization up through high school.”

With so much of everyday life disrupted this year, many children haven’t been able to go to the library, for instance. To supplement that, volunteers were able to draw from a large donation of new and gently used books.

“Oh my goodness, it was amazing how many books were donated,” Freeman said. “I can’t tell you how many we sorted. The books were a big hit.”

Team members and volunteers assembled the kits over a four-hour span. The kits were distributed during appointments at Novant Health Today’s Pediatrics, Novant Health Westgate Pediatrics and Novant Health Waughtown Pediatrics. For kids, the excitement was palpable. 

“When kids saw there was a bag of things just for them, it took their mind away from the reality of the moment,” Freeman said. “You could just see their eyes light up. There wasn’t anything extravagant within the bags, but it was something that was theirs.”

Freeman said the effort exemplified the culture at Novant Health, where team members are empowered to volunteer and give back to the community.

“We always put our community first, and we’re always looking to help the community, whether it’s staying healthy or making sure they have access to everything they need,” Freeman said.

The kits were one example of how Novant Health Foundation donations make a direct impact on communities, Freeman said.

“We could not sustain these projects without the help and partnership that we have with the community,” Freeman said. “It really warms my heart. We’ve all been struggling in different ways, but there are so many people in the community that are willing to donate and help those who are less fortunate.”

You can make a difference, too.

Today, you have an opportunity to make a real difference for families in your area. With a contribution to Novant Health Foundation, you help our team members save lives and promote health and wellbeing in your community. Make your gift today.

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