How to Help a Broken Heart

by Jen Guynn

A nurse noticed something unusual as she listened to newborn Caden’s heart. She was not sure anything was wrong, but she was not convinced otherwise either. She decided to seek some follow-up. Within hours of his birth, baby Caden was having open heart surgery to repair a heart defect no one would’ve known existed without that nurse’s diligence.

Since then, he had to return for a follow-up procedure when he was five. This second open heart surgery was also successful, but more challenging since Caden was older and could understand what was happening. “He had to stay so still and keep resting,” says his mom Becca. “It’s so hard to keep a five-year-old boy still! Mostly he stayed in bed, doing crafts or playing Legos. That was about all he could do.”

Because of the risk of germs, visitors aren’t allowed in rooms like Caden’s, and the experience can be lonely and boring for young kids used to active lives. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Pebble Tossers invites you to remember and serve children that could use some extra love and care. Kids with special needs, medically fragile conditions like Caden, or especially vulnerable life circumstances is our Cause Area Focus for February.

Some kids with special needs have physical disabilities you can see, like those with a wheelchair, seeing eye dog, artificial limbs, or hearing equipment. Others may have special needs that you cannot see, like dyslexia, ADHD, or anxiety. The U.S. Census tells us that one in every nine kids receives special education services, and one in every 26 families in America is raising a child with a disability.

How can we spread love to special needs or fragile children? Some simple, everyday ways include just being friendly, saying hi, and acknowledging a child with all their uniqueness and gifts. You can assist kids with the tasks they may need help with. But it is also important to recognize when children with special needs can act independently and allow them to do so.

There are also many nonprofit organizations that serve special needs and fragile children. Some organizations assist children by providing access to wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, or other needed medical equipment. Other organizations offer tutoring and education services. While others create opportunities for recreation and community.

One way we at Pebble Tossers show love to kids in tough circumstances is through a partnership with Sibley Heart Center, an outpatient center for kids like Caden, coming out of heart surgery. Since they cannot receive visitors and have to remain resting, we are putting together Valentine’s Kits for recovering children to enjoy in their rooms. They include door hanger foam boards and craft supplies for Valentines they can make and give to their doctors, nurses, parents, and roommates. Let’s be a part of sharing love this season!

P.S. If you’d like to be a part of making these Valentine Kits on February 8th, you can sign up here.

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