In June of 2020, after three months of quarantine, my younger brother, 18 at the time,
went out for a bike ride. In his 20th mile, when he was almost home, a delivery truck driver reversed without looking, and struck him. I was on the floor of my room doing yoga with my puppy Charlie when my twin brother called me. He never calls me out of the blue. When I answered he said, “Don’t panic, Avi was out biking and was hit by a truck, we are on the way to the scene.” Avi was unconscious and rushed to Children’s Hospital. His saving grace was that he was wearing a helmet, which saved his life. Avi spent hours in the emergency room where he kept asking the same questions repetitively and screaming in pain from a broken bone. Avi had no idea what happened to him. On his care team was a child life specialist named Ericka. She came into the room and started talking to Avi. She asked him about his family and where he was going to college. Avi started telling her about our family’s new puppy Charlie. Ericka calmed Avi down, and that calmed the rest of us too. Ericka went from room to room with Avi explaining what was happening and what the procedures would be like. The accident changed Avi, and it also changed me.
As my brother was home and recovering, I realized I wanted to work in a profession that benefited other people. Avi’s description of how Ericka helped him through his recovery piqued my interest in the field of child life. When I began college in the fall of 2018 at Fontbonne University, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career. I have always had a creative side to me, and a love for fashion, so I majored in Fashion Merchandising. This program allowed me to grow my creativity and expand my knowledge of fashion, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit my life to it. After my brother’s accident I realized I had a different calling.
I decided to volunteer at Children’s Hospital. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to volunteer in person, but I was able to connect with the child life department. In January of 2020 I started a project creating and donating craft bags to the child life playroom at Children’s Hospital. This project, called Cheery Charlie, allows me to use my creative brain while also helping children. Charlie makes me cheery, and that’s what I hope my craft bags do for the children who receive them. Each craft bag has a small note tied to the bag with a picture of me and Charlie, and a message with my story.