Children fighting cancer who are hospitalized at Inova received iPads due to a partnership of local Nova charities last month, thanks to the work of Firefighter Loren Jewell of StillBrave and Ed Tourinsky of The Kids Educational Tech Foundation.
StillBrave, based in Burke, was formed in 2012 by Tom Mitchell when his sixteen year old daughter Shayla lost her battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The organization provides non-medical support to children with cancer and their families. Their many services include fundraising, advocating for awareness, educational support, babysitting services, financial support, and social support.
Their mission statement is as follows: “We are committed to helping the families of children battling cancer in any way we can. So while they are fighting the toughest war of their lives, we will fight their lesser battles, so they don’t have to.”
Kids Educational Technology Foundation, too, provides support to local children in a different way. The organization works with schools in the Maryland, Northern Virginia, and DC area to provide technology to students in need.
By donating technological devices to children for whom they would be otherwise inaccessible, KETF allows children the opportunity to “develop the skills to effectively use Internet resources, social media, video technology, and interpersonal communications. To create tomorrow’s citizens, employees, and economic drivers,” according to their mission statement.
The connection between hospitalized children and technology is an important one, especially during a time of covid restrictions. StillBrave’s founder and director, Tom Mitchell, saw this firsthand while his daughter underwent treatment.
“Her iPad and technology were her only connection to the outside world. They were an indispensable life line. For both the younger and older kids, it’s a great time killer and a great distraction. It’s a real connection for the older kids. When my daughter passed away, one of the things I was determined to do was to make sure that kids had access to technology so that they could experience that. We were able to touch lives that way.”
Services like these are needed now more than ever.
“Because of covid restrictions, visitations are really limited at the chemo clinic and the hospital. Having this touchstone to the outside world is like gold for these kids. It’s a lifeline.”