Patients & Families
Jaquares, a kidney transplant patient, loves nothing more than playing with Legos or watching a professional Lego build on YouTube in his hospital room. His mother, Jevita, brings tubes of Legos to the hospital whenever he is in for treatment to help keep his mind off the pain. During a routine visit with the family to offer support, Jenny Tudisco, a Children’s Harbor licensed professional counselor, learned just how much these Legos meant to the five year old patient.
It had been a long rough day of treatment and to Jaquares’ dismay, the mini Lego build was going on at the Birmingham Lego Store without him. “ He is just devastated and so upset that he won’t be able to add this month’s Lego to his collections. It is his favorite thing to do,” Jevita said. Furthermore she explained how the Legos make him feel better and how it would mean the world to him if Children’s Harbor was able to host a mini build so the patients wouldn’t miss out on that month’s Lego.
Since Jaquares found the most joy by playing with Legos in his hospital room, Jenny Tudisco, a Children’s Harbor counselor, was determined to make his dream of a Lego Build at the hospital a reality through the Family Center.
As she began brainstorming ideas with Children’s Harbor program development specialist Morgan Stephenson, they came to the conclusion that the best way to make this Lego Build happen was to pursue a partnership with the Lego Store. From there Morgan set up a meeting with Dustin McCray, the Hoover Lego Store manager, to discuss the possibility of bringing their monthly mini build to the Family Center for patients, visitors and family members.
Dustin, who is a child at heart, was so excited about the idea, committing to a monthly build on the spot. “Dustin is the perfect fit for leading the Lego Build at the Family Center. He is so encouraging and very patient, working with each one to build their masterpiece step by step.” Not only does Dustin lead the Lego Build, but he also is always up for a pickup ping-pong game at the Family Center with the kids. As you can see in the picture, Brayden was thrilled at getting a chance to play against the “cool Lego guy.”
Because of five-year-old Jaquares’ dream, the Lego Build has been happening monthly at the Family Center since February 2013 and is still the highlight of some patients’ months. The event includes a Lego of the month, which could be anything from a bluebird to a tractor to a pirate. Below you can see some of the past months’ Lego creations. What’s great about the Lego of the month is it comes prepackaged with a set of directions, so we are able to take them to patients who can not come down to the Family Center because of various medical reasons. In addition to the Lego of the month, Dustin brings buckets of Legos for the much loved free build. It serves as a great creative outlet for patients, which is very important since they miss art classes at school and their chance to exercise their imagination. Moms and Dads love the Lego Build, too. They are always very excited to hear about the event because a lot of them spent many hours waiting in line at the Lego Store for the popular Lego Build when their child was not hospitalized.
We are excited to announce we just received a $1,000 donation from the Lego Store, which we plan to use this summer to host a Lego Extravaganza at the Family Center. We will kick off the event with a showing of the Lego Movie accompanied with popcorn and cotton candy. Then the kids can choose from different Lego Build stations and other activities. If you’d like to participate as an event volunteer or donate supplies, please email Darby Calhoun.