Leanne Joyce is a freshman at Carrboro High School in North Carolina. She started Positive Impact for Kids when she was 12-years-old after being diagnosed with a congenital heart condition. Please take a moment and read about her inspirational work in her own words, she is amazing.
I am the 14-year-old Founder and President of Positive Impact for Kids. My 501(c)(3) non-profit strives to improve the lives of hospitalized children and teenagers receiving inpatient medical care in the United States.
I was born with a congenital heart condition. In 2011, I was unexpectedly told by my cardiologist to immediately stop participating in sports due to my cardiac changes. At the time, I was nationally-ranked in jump rope, a competitive swimmer and a gymnast so this was life-changing news for me. Later in 2011, while waiting for test results at the hospital, I witnessed a group of volunteers handing out gifts. I was lucky enough to receive a gift that helped relieve me of my anxiety, and in that moment something in me changed. I decided I needed to look ahead at what I could do and not back at what I could no longer do, so I started a non-profit. It was a beneficial way to refocus my time, energy and desire to help others.
Through Positive Impact for Kids, I help hospital staff meet the emotional needs of their pediatric patients by providing them with “wish list” items. It is very frightening for children to be in an unfamiliar environment where they have no control over their bodies, hospital routines and treatments – I know firsthand. But hospitalized children deserve to feel normal and have the resources to have the best experience possible, which is why I donate items like electronics and gift cards. Staff use the iPad minis in procedure rooms for distraction and education about future operations and treatments. The gift cards (to Target, Walmart and iTunes) are for hospitalized teenagers. Middle and high school years are hard times to cope with illness and teens are judged so much on their appearance. Chemotherapy patients and other hospitalized teens commonly feel insecure and tend to have low self- esteem. If I can make a hospitalized teenager smile and feel less alone in their battle then I have succeeded.
These gifts are small but they have a big impact. For example, one hospital shared that a five-year-old boy needed to be held down by five professionals and his mother in order to have a procedure done. When the child life specialist arrived and distracted him with a donated iPad, he calmed down and sat quietly for the procedure. The work my non-profit does aids not only the patient, but the entire family because parents’ stress decreases as their child’s does. A child’s hospitalization affects the whole family – parents work hard to protect and advocate for their child while fighting their own anxiety. I’m working to make the experience better for everyone.
Part of the reason I chose to give back to younger people is because if I can impact even one person, maybe they will be inspired enough to give back too. In two short years, I have raised more than $29,000 and donated 49 iPad minis and 550 gift cards to 58 hospitals in every state plus Washington D.C. – and this is just the beginning. My goal is to raise $100,000 by my high school graduation, which is why I’ve entered KIND Causes – a program from KIND Snacks that funds socially-impactful ideas through monthly $10,000 grants. With $10,000 I would be able to help five pediatric hospitals, so please consider voting for my Cause here. The Cause with the most votes at the end of August will receive the funding. To learn more about my work or donate directly, you can visit my website: http://positiveimpactforkids.org/