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For many, the teenage years is the time when you begin asserting your independence from parents and begin making decision that affect the course of your life.
But many teens get an added burden to those sometimes chaotic years; they find out they have cancer. Patients at St. Jude find themselves in a battle for their lives, in a city far from home and far from the usual activities of teens.
But several years ago, St. Jude created the Teen Room, and the women’s fraternity Delta Delta Delta stepped in to endow the room where teens can be teens.
Tri Delta began it’s partnership with St. Jude in 1999, holding fund-raisers across the country such as Greek softball tournaments and pancake breakfasts. In 2002, the fraternity took it a step further and made a four-year, $1 million commitment to the Teen Room. As of April 2004, Tri Delta has raised more than $461,000 toward the endowment.
“I think our Tri Deltas can identify with the patients’ desire to have a place of their own in the hospital off limits to small children and adults,” said Tri Delta president Sarah Lindsay.
The Teen Room is an oasis for teen patients. Doctors, parents and younger children are prohibited from entering the room. It is a place for teens and teens only. Taking the shape of a circle, the room is partitioned into sections with unique angles and houses games, a television and DVD player, a pinball machine, a juke box and a Starbright World computer that allows patients at St. Jude to interact with patients at other children’s hospitals.
“The Teen Room supports our ability to meet the unique needs that young adults have in development,” said Hallie Bloom, director of Child Life Services at St. Jude. “For teenagers, hospitalization causes more dependence on parents and isolation from peers, but the Teen Room counters that and gives teens a place to express their feelings, fears and concerns.”
In June, some collegiate Tri Deltas got a chance to see the Teen Room and other areas of the hospital as part of the St. Jude Collegiate Leadership Seminar. More than 60 Tri Deltas attended the seminar where students learned how to coordinate successful fund-raising events, as well as visit the hospital and Target House.
In addition, the Tri Deltas will hold their Power of Purpose seminar at St. Jude at the end of July. The leadership weekend will challenge the Tri Delta participants to discover their talents, values and priorities through guided activities and discussions.
“The support St. Jude receives from all facets of society is so wonderful,” said David L. McKee, chief operating officer of the hospital’s fund-raising arm. “College students and fraternities such as Tri Delta have shown an enthusiasm for St. Jude and its mission that harkens back to our early days of fund-raising when the Teenage Marches of the 1960s helped drive the hospital’s fund raising. Their support is a blessing to St. Jude.”
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