Miracle Monday: Kids facing chronic illnesses keep up with studies through unique program
SPOKANE, Wash. — There’s a special place at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital that children can go to for learning, playing, and meeting new friends.
It’s called the Andrew Rypien School Program.
Dax Stanford stopped by the classroom last week during his visit to the hospital. He’s been in and out of Sacred Heart since last October when he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
He’s only nine years old.
His mother, Yolanda Stanford, said during that time, he’s missed a lot of school.
“It’s nice to know that there are resources like this that we can count on,” Yolanda said.
The Andrew Rypien School Program is now in year three at Sacred Heart. It’s free for patients, thanks to local donations and a grant from the Rypien Foundation. That nonprofit was founded by Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien, who lost his three-year-old son, Andrew, to cancer.
There are tutors available, most of whom are retired teachers. They’re there to help kids from K-12, and in some cases, into college.
The program’s local coordinator, Maggie Rowe, said getting to go to the classroom helps children now and supports their futures.
“We know it might just seem like one isolated school year while a kid gets treatment, but we know the ripples from that situation are going to continue long-term,” Rowe said.
Tasia Johnson is already thinking ahead to her future at just five.
Once she beats cancer, she said she wants to be a firefighter.
“Because it helps people,” Johnson said.
The Rypien School has helped more than 1,500 local kids, just like Johnson, according to Rowe. Not only are they continuing their education, they’re also making important connections.
“We see their moods lifted and we see some friendships build and that’s the whole point of this program is to try and help kids feel a little more normal while they’re here,” Rowe said.
If you’re interested in donating money to buy supplies or want to volunteer at Sacred Heart, click here.
Just look at that smile.
Tasia is brushing up on some homework while she’s at the hospital. She’s battling cancer, but…
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