DEC My Room

From Hospital Room to Hello Kitty
DEC MY ROOM helps kids with cancer smile

Some people may not see the healing force of magic markers and Scotch tape. But volunteers for Dec My Room are deeply touching the lives of Houston’s sickest children. Inside the bone marrow transplant unit of Texas Children’s Cancer Center, patient rooms are being transformed into colorful, cozy, personalized spaces. Started by Susan Plank in August 2007, Dec My Room has recently expanded into the rooms of other children faced with prolonged hospitalization.

“We wanted children with cancer to feel like they were at home, not inside a hospital,” Susan Plank explains. “Decorating a room seems like a simple project, but it helps children cope with the psychological toll that accompanies a long hospital stay.”

Dec volunteers have successfully “decked out” more than 80 rooms at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, with more rooms on the way. Each room is decorated with the child’s personal preferences in mind. Themes range from Superman, the Houston Dynamo, cars, Hollywood celebrities, and yes, Hello Kitty.

“My partner-in-crime, Shelley Barineau, was recently awarded a grant from the Children’s Fund, and we’re thrilled,” Susan Plank says. “Our organization is all volunteers, so one hundred percent of our funds go toward decorations.” With a budget of $250 per room, patients watch in astonishment as volunteers hustle to give their rooms a special makeover. The process begins by finding out what the patient is fanatical about and incorporating it into the room’s theme. Although decorating a child’s room seems simple, the results put an immediate smile on the children’s faces. In certain instances, young patients who could control their doses of pain medication with a button, pushed it less frequently after their room was transformed.

“We go through everyday life filled with trivial concerns, like being stuck in traffic, but when you walk through Texas Children’s Hospital and see these children, it helps put your life into perspective,” Susan Plank says.

A Brief Snippet about Texas Children’s Hospital

Considered one of the top pediatric organizations in the world, Texas Children’s Hospital is in the midst of a $1.5 billion investment. Aptly titled Vision 2010 – Excellence to Eminence, this is the largest short-term investment ever by a single children’s hospital anywhere in the world. Major projects scheduled for completion by 2010 include a comprehensive neurological research institute, a maternity center, expansion of existing research facilities and the development of one of the largest pediatric hospitals in a suburban setting.

For more information on how you can make a difference, contact Jamee Rivera at (832) 822-4892

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