It may have been the first behind-the-scenes tour of Akron Children’s Beeghly campus for many of the teenagers from Youth Leadership Mahoning Valley, but their advisor said it certainly won’t be their last time at the facility.
Karen Stacey, executive director of leadership and safety programs for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, oversees the youth organization, which comprises 34 future leaders from high schools throughout the region.
The group meets monthly for day-long activities that focus on issues of concern to the community. As part of its “health and human services day,” they spent a partial day with Akron Children’s physicians and staff.
“The students were very touched by what they saw,” Stacey said. “Coming out of it there was a tremendous amount of interest shown in volunteerism, careers in healthcare and in working with kids. There are so many different careers in healthcare, they learned, and it takes an entire group of people to make a hospital work.”
As part of the tour, students visited the ER, in-patient floors, physical therapy, radiology and surgery prep. They heard from 2 doctors, as well as a nutritionist who spoke about healthy eating habits.
“I was very impressed with how everything was so kid-friendly and designed in a way to make the hospital experience less worrisome for children,” said Hubbard High School junior Paige Freisen, who’s considering a career as a teacher or speech pathologist after college at Youngstown State University. “The staff’s compassion and focus on the needs of children were evident in everything we saw.”
Following the tour, the class upheld a longstanding tradition by choosing to support the hospital’s Reach Out and Read initiative as its community service component.
Throughout the year, members of the class will organize book drives to donate to the hospital’s program that provides new books free-of-charge to patients and their siblings.