By Jennifer Nolla, R.N., Pediatric Alliance — Jefferson Hills

 

Pediatric Alliance staff members gathered last weekend at The Woodlands facility in Wexford, PA to give back not only to a community, but to a beautiful and loving group of kids for the afternoon. What a beautiful, cool, sunny autumn day to volunteer! Pediatric Alliance staff and their families jumped into the fun at The Woodland’s Weekend Retreat for Youth and Teens. The Woodlands is a nonprofit human service organization dedicated to serving children and adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The air of excitement and anticipation for carnival fun, games and prizes was felt by all.

As a parent of a disabled child, I had never heard of The Woodlands and what it has to offer for kids and adults like my son Tommy. Four of my six children took the road trip to the North Hills as volunteers for the afternoon, giving back to children who get so much enjoyment and excitement from small carnival games. These kids are the closest thing to heaven on earth we will ever enjoy. They give love, give no judgments, and enjoy the big and little things in life without looking for the negatives. Now my children understand the medical and physical environment a special needs child requires. I will never forget my children’s faces engaging with the kids, whether helping them with a mini-golf game, Cornhole, or my favorite, Pumpkin Pong (where my very loud voice was the talk of the town!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met husbands and wives of the staff. Angela Petrosky — you are my hero, carrying that little sweet pumpkin on your chest for 4 hours straight while running after little Ethan, who just wanted to join in all the fun! Camille Naylor — your children are kind and sweet to give up a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon to help with the carnival. I think your son had just as much fun playing bowling as being the assistant in the game. There were so many others to name including their families that also took time out of their hectic family schedules right before the holidays to give back. What a nice get-together so we can all place names with faces outside the busy work day and come together as one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the program, I treated my children to some Starbucks for the ride home. My son fell asleep from all the excitement, but my girls — twins Grace and Tori, ages 10, and Haley, age 15 — were humbled by these kids. Haley’s statement will always stay with me…”Mom, the kids were so excited and appreciative of something so simple as a few homemade games and trinkets as prizes. It really puts every day into perspective.” Every morning before school I tell my kids to learn something new. It’s nice to know they sometimes learn things more valuable than math and science. They learn that they have the ability to treat others with respect, kindness and openness to all, no matter the disability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Woodlands encourages and strengthens each individual in socialization, recreation, environment, culture and spirituality. The programs available for disabled children and adults are weekend retreats for the older kids, summer camps, and a “Cub Club” day camp for the little ones ages 6-12 years. The children get to take part of making new friends and exploring through programs geared towards recreation, fitness and social programs. For more information on volunteering or providing your child with an enriching experience please call The Woodlands 724-935-5470 or visit their website at www.mywoodlands.org!

Thank you Woodlands community! It was enriching to be part of such a wonderful experience. Thank you Dr. Mike Petrosky for giving my family and me a memory we will not soon forget! We cannot wait for the next adventure!