|Group visits children with chronic illnesses|
Rashawn Warren, a student member of the Other Teens Care (OTC) support group at FCHS, dressed as Santa and gifted children in Roanoke Memorial’s pediatric unit with toys for Christmas.
Monday, December 16, 2013
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
Student members in Franklin County High School's Other Teens Care (OTC) support group visited Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital's pediatric unit last week to spread some holiday cheer to children who may not be able to spend the holidays at home.
The students, whose daily lives are impacted by chronic illness, share their experience with each other as well as others who are battling sickness and need support and encouragement.
Andrea Ninehan, a special education teacher at the high school, formed the OTC group two years ago. With a background in counseling and social work, Ninehan said she found the "perfect way to unite what I love most."
OTC is formerly known as the Chronic Illness Support Group. This is the second year the group has made the trip to the Roanoke hospital.
"I started the support group to meet the needs of students suffering from chronic illness," said Ninehan. "The name of the group was changed to detract from labels and encourage more students to join."
Students in the group discuss issues they have to deal with pertaining to their illnesses, like diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, cerebral palsy, leukemia, severe asthma or sickle cell anemia.
The group currently has seven active student members. They are Rashawn Warren, Alexis Holt, Zack Burlington, Evan McGrady, Trey Harrison, Kaitlyn Bush and Eva Collins.
"The idea behind the visits is to bring Christmas cheer to kids who can't be home for the holidays," said Ninehan. "The members of OTC know all too well what it is like to be sick and hospitalized for lengthy periods of time."
The students read Christmas stories, distributed gifts and donations, and provided encouragement to the young patients.
"The members of the support group have a unique perspective, as they have been frequently hospitalized for illnesses of their own," she added.
The group is open to anyone who is impacted by a chronic illness or a family member's illness, Ninehan said. The students meet twice a week at the high school.
"I am always looking to recruit new students," said Ninehan.