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Kids reach out to help youngest patients

Aysha Cox, Kaiya Cooper, Madeline Blomberg and Carter Smith show where how much they have raised for Ty'd with Love. (click for larger version)
January 19, 2011 - First-graders at Independence Elementary and Springfield Plains Elementary are reaching out to other children.

For their Academic Service Learning project they are raising money for Ty'd with Love, created by Anne Duffy, a Independence Elementary first-grade teacher.

"We are raising money for kids getting treatment in the hospital," explained Colin Farmiloe, in Duffy's class.

The goal is to raise money to buy items for the oncology/hematology clinic at Children's Hospital of Michigan and Great Lakes Cancer Institute. The students sent hand-written letters to local businesses asking for help. Their written words worked as of Monday, they raised $3,080.

The project is in honor of Ty, Duffy's 2-year-old son, a patient at Children's Hospital of Michigan.

In May 2010, doctors discovered a tumor in Ty's eye. He has received chemotherapy at Children's Hospital for the past several months, for 5-6 hours at a time.

Ty would sit and watch movies on his DVD player. One day, Anne watched a little boy with absolutely nothing to do but sit during his treatment, looking bored.

"My heart would break," she confessed. "When we came home we were praying for more kids than our own."

While there is a television in the room, not everyone can see it while receiving treatment and they only have 10 DVDs for children ages 3-4.

Anne explained many didn't have anything to do because families don't have means for more. She also explained to her class other children don't have mp3 players, Nintendo DSs, iPad touches or portable DVD players.

The ideas began to spark to purchase items patients could use portable DVD players, DVD's, activity books, coloring books, hand-held games, hand-made blankets and more.

"We are trying to get things to donate to the hospital so when kids are sitting in those chairs having to get the medicine and they are feeling so yucky, they might be able to do something," said Anne.

The goal is to purchase 10 DVD players with a collection of DVDs to go with them. They also want to make literacy bags filled with books, coloring books and stickers.

"It will help save lives," said Cole Campbell, from Mrs. Bell's first grade class at Independence Elementary. "It helps keep them from moving too much during treatment."

He added when the patients move, they have to start treatment over again from the beginning.

The first-graders began their ASL project in Fall 2010. In November, the students reflected on what they were thankful for including being healthy.

They discussed how health was a gift and shared stories about friends and family members in the hospital.

The reflection made the students decide they wanted to help others in need.

They also made special Thanksgiving note cards for Great Lakes Cancer Institute. Anyone who went in for a treatment received a stack of cards to send to friends and family.

The stack also included a picture of Ty, explaining what the students are doing.

In December, they worked on writing letters to Clarkston businesses explaining Ty'd for Love and asking for donations. They sent thank you letters to friends and businesses.

The students created a graph marking their collective progress. Anne admitted they received more than expected.

During January, they're writing pen pal letters to friends at Independence Elementary and Springfield Plains Elementary and making more cards for GLCI.

"We are making cards for people not feeling good in the hospital," said Emma Spitzer, from Mrs. Bell's class at Independence Elementary.

Every day when Anne receives mail, the class opens it together and reads it.

"It makes me feel good," said Farmiloe.

"My mom is helping us," said Zoe Forbes, from Mrs. Bell's class. "My dad will soon be sending money to our school. It is important because we are giving and being nice."

They are also planning a benefit concert, currently working out the details.

"We have been talking about being respectful and having respectful behavior and listening manners, whether Mrs. Duffy is here or not," said Anne. "They are helping me and to get the kids better."

To help the first graders, checks can be mailed to: Independence Elementary, c/o "Ty'd with Love!," 6850 Hubbard Road, Clarkston, MI 48348 or Springfield Plains Elementary, c/o "Ty'd with Love!," 8650 Holcomb Road, Clarkston, MI 48348. Please make checks payable to the elementary.

Academic Service Learning is a way to connect meaningful service learning to the community with classroom instruction that enriches learning, teaches civic responsibility, and fosters personal growth.

By participating in this project, first graders will meet curricular goals and objectives while at the same time begin to understand how they too can help someone in need.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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