FDU’s School of Pharmacy spends spring break serving terminally ill children

 

pharm4Above: Members of the student group from the School of Pharmacy that spent their spring break serving at Give Kids The World Village, giving terminally ill children and their families magical resort experences. (Photo courtesy of Chadwin Sandifer)

By Catherine Krawiec

Central Florida is home to Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and LegoLand. Although the School of Pharmacy sends a group down to Kissimmee, they don’t spend the week enjoying the amenities of the Sunshine State. For the last three years, the School of Pharmacy has participated in an alternative Spring Break service trip working at Give Kids The World Village, a nonprofit resort that fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

This year, a group of eleven students and three staff members, went to work in the Village, which is a 70-acre "storybook" resort, located near Disney World. The children and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations at Give Kids the World Village. The FDU volunteer group, dubbed the “Rx Angels,” worked to provide a magical experience for children who have with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The magical experiences weren’t limited to the resort’s guests though. “I met Harry Potter, I met plenty of little princesses, but most of all, behind those costumes, I met kids who showed me what magic was,” says student pharmacist Priya Narang, Class of 2017. “After this trip, I know that we ourselves need to create the magic.”

The Rx Angels connected with children and families by working in a variety of tasks throughout Give Kids The World Village, from providing food service in the Village's various dining establishments to staffing the Village's multiple programming areas to working village-wide special events.

“[Connecting to families] really taught me that something as little as being courteous to someone and taking interest in their situation can uplift them in more ways than one,” says student pharmacist Noran Osman, Class of 2018.

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Above: Priya Narang (Class of 2017) working at Amerbville game room at Give Kids The World Village during Spring Break 2015. (Photo courtesy of Adam Carlson)

Adam Carlson, student affairs counselor in the School of Pharmacy, explains “Being immersed in the environment of Give Kids The World Village leads our students to focus on leadership skills that directly carry over into their professional lives as future pharmacists. We are very intentional about challenging our students to exit their comfort zones and breaking their own boundaries. It's wonderful to see the empathy that our students display for the families that they serve and to see an entire group unite under a common goal.”

“This alternative spring break, partially sponsored by Walgreens, affords students the opportunity to live the mission of the School of Pharmacy while also engaging in opportunities to promote professional responsibility by communicating with varied populations, understand civic responsibility by interacting with families and develop a sense of caring for others through daily activities, one-on-one interactions and reflection,” says Chadwin Sandifer, assistant dean for student affairs & programmatic effectiveness.

During every volunteer shift, students were challenged by their administrators to step outside of their comfort zones in order to best serve others. On the final day at Give Kids The World Village, student pharmacists were given their biggest challenge — to bring the magic that they experienced and created during this trip back to their daily lives.

“This was an experience that I’ll never forget and not only have I left a piece of my heart there, but I brought a piece back with me. Keep creating the magic and keep hope alive, because together, we truly can change the world,” reflects Narang.