Giving Back to The Hospital That Gave A Family So Much

Guest Blog By: Deb Montgomery, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital Parent

My daughter, Neriah, has had many varied health issues over the course of her childhood, including severe asthma, allergies, gastrointenstinal issues, and more. We have been blessed to have her under the care of several of the doctors in the Pediatric Specialty Clinic at the University of Maryland Childnre’s Hospital (UMCH). During the past several years, we’ve been through a multitude of appointments, testing, and hospitalizations.

As you can imagine, this has been really hard, and especially heartbreaking to see all that our little girl had to endure. Good care from doctors and nurses helped, but it was hard to keep positive and distract our sweet girl from all of the pain and discomfort. In some of the toughest medical tests and hospitalizations, we were introduced to the Child Life program.

Through that, she was given some toys and crafts to keep her busy, and distract her a bit from what was going on. It was such a help to have someone else “on our side”, trying to make the whole hospital ordeal a more positive experience for our little girl! When she got home from different times in the hospital, she would show her sisters some crafts that she made, or little presents she got to keep. She never told stories about the hard stuff, but she focused on those fun, positive memories! We really appreciate the positive memories that she has of the hospital, through the Child Life program.

It’s because of that, that we would like to help more children in the hospital to go home with some positive memories! We know how much it means to get some help at some of the hardest times. Our little girl loves to read, and we are having a book drive to raise money to buy Usborne books and more for the Child Life program to give to kids at UMCH. Usborne books are really engaging and interactive, and would really help to bring some joy to a child in the hospital. Usborne will match your donation at 50%, so we’ll be able to get even more books to the children! Click through the link below to donate to the fundraiser, to take part in giving some wonderful books to children in the hospital at UMCH!
Click here to support Provide books to children in the hospital at UMCH

The Love Blanket Project Spreads Love Around UMCH

Love comes in many shapes and sizes, but for Robin Chiddo it’s square, 44×44 and fuzzy.

Today, Robin from the Love Blanket Project dropped off 33 custom t-shirt blankets that will be given out to children staying at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.

The Love Blanket Project started in 2015 when Robin, who recently retired from her position as director of business development at the UMD Alumni Association at College Park, was looking for a heartfelt gift for her sister. In her research, Robin also wanted to find a company that had a clear, mission-driven purpose—then she came across Deaf Initiatives’ Keepsake Theme Quilts (KTQ).

Deaf Initiatives is an organization that employs deaf individuals and teaches employees how to run a small business in a deaf-friendly environment. Robin and her sister loved the first quilt they received, and she started the Love Blanket Project soon after.

Robin sends donated t-shirts to KTQ, and in 4-8 weeks, she receives beautifully crafted blankets. Each blanket is gift wrapped by Robin and the Love Blanket Project team, topped with a “have a comfy day” card and donated to hospitals across the state. The Love Blanket Project has donated to University of Maryland Children’s Hospital since the organization’s beginnings.

Myracle and her mom with a new Love Blanket

Robin has no trouble finding enough shirts—between the UMD bookstore, athletics department and generous donations from Corrigan Sports and Tough Mudder, the Love Blanket Project is swimming in shirts!

So, how can you help?

Robin is always looking for volunteers to help with fundraising. Each blanket costs $110 to produce, and all money to produce the blankets comes from fundraising and donations. If you want to get in touch with the Love Blanket Project, call 202-528-2208 or email loveblanketproject@gmail.com.

Shannon Joslin (left, Child Life Manager) and Robin Chiddo with one of past years’ blankets.

“No Screens Under 2” Q&A with Dr. Brenda Hussey-Gardner

brenda-hussey-gardnerHi, my name is Dr. Brenda Hussey-Gardner. I am a developmental specialist who works with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. I attended the American Academy of Pediatrics conference in San Francisco to share the results of research that I have done with colleagues here at the University of Maryland and to learn what other researchers are doing across the nation in order to bring this new knowledge back to the hospital to better serve our children and their families. At this conference, the American Academy of Pediatrics released their new guidelines regarding screen time and children.

Please see the Q&A here for more information on these guidelines.

Q: What is the “No Screens Under 2” rule and in what ways is it changing?

A: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) previously recommended no screen time for children under 2 years of age. In its new guidelines, the AAP offers slightly different recommendations for children less than 18 months and those 18 to 24 months of age.

Children less than 18 months

The AAP discourages parents from using digital media with one exception: video-chatting (e.g., Skype, FaceTime). This form of interactive media can be used, with parent support, to foster social relationships with distant relatives.

Children 18 to 24 months

The AAP recommends that parents, who want to introduce their child to digital media, do the following:

  1. Only use high-quality educational content.
  2. Always watch shows or use apps with your child. Talking about what the child sees helps foster learning.
  3. Never allow your child to use media alone.
  4.  Limit media to a maximum of 1 hour per day.
  5. Avoid all screen time during meals, parent-child playtime and an hour before bedtime.

Q: Can you provide some insight into how the decision was made? What research was taken into account?

A: The AAP Council on Communications and Media reviewed research on child development, television, videos and mobile/interactive technologies to develop their current recommendations. Research shows that children under the age of 2 years need two things to develop their thinking, language, motor and social-emotional skills: (1) they need to interact with their parents and other loving caregivers, and (2) they need hands-on experiences with the real world. In fact, researchers have demonstrated that infants and toddlers don’t yet have the symbolic, memory and attention skills needed to learn from digital media. Importantly, research also shows evidence of harm (e.g., delayed thinking, language and social-emotional development; poorer executive functioning) from excessive media use with young children.

Q: Why do these new guidelines matter to parents, and should they affect the ways parents and their young children interact with technology?

A: AAP guidelines matter because parents want their children to be well adjusted and smart, and they don’t want to do anything that may harm their child’s development. As such, parents should try their best to avoid screens with their children who are less than 18 months of age and realize that it is their interactions with their child that are the most important. Then, from 18 to 24 months of age, parents should strive to use only the highest quality educational technology with their child. As hard as it is, parents should try to avoid using technology as a babysitter and try to understand the negative impact that it can have on their child’s development.

Q: What is your biggest take-away from the session?

A: A parent’s lap is always better than any app!

Q: What is your opinion on the new guidelines and do you think it will affect your clinical practice? If so, how?

A: I believe that the new AAP guidelines, while a little more flexible, may still be difficult for parents to adhere to, as screen time is so pervasive in our society. However, it is very important for parents to make smart choices about digital media and screen time if they want to help their infant and toddler develop into a child who is healthy and ready for success in preschool. It is my goal to develop a pamphlet summarizing the research findings and AAP guidelines to help parents make the best choices for their child and family.

 

For more information about media, screen time, and child development, parents are encouraged to read the AAP recommendations located within the publication “Media and Young Minds,” and to read the “Early Learning and Educational Technology Brief” published by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.