Project Main Details
• Approximately 27% of U.S. children live with chronic health conditions that can affect their daily lives and normal activities.
• Parents’ time is torn between hospital, home and work. Brothers and sisters feel left out and left behind. The child with the serious illness misses out on school and spending time with friends.
• Treatments take over their life. The child is poked, prodded and sometimes scared.
• The path to survival is an exhausting road with hospitalizations, treatments, and surgeries. The everyday adversities these families have to overcome by themselves are isolating and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
In 1987, Ben and Luanne Russell envisioned a place for seriously ill children and their families.
Children's Harbor offers patients and their families two unique environments to strengthen family bonds and find balance and support during and after hospitalization. All of the services offered at both campuses are provided to families at no cost, thanks to many generous donors and volunteers.
Children’s Harbor at Lake Martin donates its camp facility to dozens of partnering organizations serving more than4,500 long-term seriously ill campers and their families. This providesthem a place of rest and restoration in a safe environment. The entire campus is handicap accessible from the playgrounds to the swimming pool.
Campers no longer stand out because of their illness because other campers face the same diagnosis, medications, and limitations. Every camp session is unique to the camper and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For families, attending camp is a chance to expand their supportive community as well as connect with other camp families who understand the issues they are facing. The opportunity to create a memorable experience for the entire family is priceless and most likely the only time during the year they can take a “vacation” because of the financial burden a serious illness brings.
Children’s Harbor’s Family Center is a crossroads for hope and healing.
Located inside the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, in Birmingham, Alabama, the Family Center offers several ways for patients and their families to break away from their hospital stay. Children are always in motion. That’s why we’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from their hospital rooms and clinics.
The design of the Family Center focuses on patients’ and families’ desire for a destination in the hospital that doesn’t look clinical and feels like a home away from home. It features curved walls and a kitchen where community volunteer groups host family style dinners monthly.
Critical to the healing process are programs that include patient and sibling activities as well as support through counseling care and educational resources.
We all have struggles, anxiety, self-doubt, grief, and anger. At Children’s Harbor, we want patients and families to understand that they are not alone. Our team of compassionate licensed counselors and therapists provide high quality, practical care that can lead to vast improvements when coping with serious illness. Patients and their families don’t have to worry about the cost because all services are provided free of charge for as long as they need us.
The Family Center is a hub for learning—providing education and career development services at no cost.
Chronically ill children frequently miss important instructional time during the school year. Their absence deprives them of everyday learning and social developmental experiences. Children’s Harbor helps lay the foundation for a positive future through individual instruction, academic intervention, GED and ACT prep as well as college readiness skills.
One favorite activity is Snacks and Strokes, capturing the patients’ imaginations. During the painting class, patients paint their favorite Disney character who is going through a medical journey just like them. Seeing their favorite seemingly invincible Disney character with a cast or IV pole gives them a sense of validation and helps them better cope with hospitalization.
The dedicated teams at Children’s Harbor at Lake Martin and the Family Center in conjunction with community partners and volunteers have a truly life-changing impact on children with serious illnesses. Without our services these families and children would not have the opportunity to experience life free from routine hospital visits and invasive medical treatments. It’s our mission to provide them with resources for hope, healing and the confidence to discover a new world of possibilities.
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