By Theresa Edwards Makrush
Last October, nine-year-old Hartley Georges had proton therapy for a rare brain tumor, medulloblastoma. The third grader at Orange Park Elementary School in Orange Park, Florida, kept up her studies with the help of her teacher Jennifer Allen, and kept up her spirits with the help of her schoolmates and the social services team at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Hartley’s mother Michelle Georges said her teacher knew how much joy the art table brought to the entire family and organized the school’s student council holiday donation drive to collect art supplies for the Institute.
With a list from Pamela Gardener, artist-in-residence at the Institute, the entire school from Kindergarten through 6th grade chipped in to gather up enough art supplies to fill many large boxes to the brim with everything from acrylic paint to yarn. They also collected toys for the child life program and dropped them off to child life specialist Jennifer Duncanson, MS, CCLS. Michelle said the art program and the child life program helped the patients and their families connect with each other, relax, and feel more comfortable. “Pam was wonderful. We loved seeing her on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” she said. “A smiling, familiar face and someone popping in and checking in each day was the joy that Jennifer Duncanson brought.”
The gift of art supplies and toys will help reduce anxiety and inspire creativity for patients and family members. “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Orange Park Elementary School and the people who made it happen,” said Pamela.