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LSS youth: Putting others before themselves

On August 12th, staff at Albany Medical Center Children’s Hospital were beyond thrilled to accept a charitable donation from LaSalle. In March 2018, Dylan asked LaSalle staff about organizing a donation drive for the hospital. With our strong support for this ambitious project, Dylan went on to ensuring there would be ear-to-ear smiles on the children’t faces for a long time to come!

It all started with a work-based learning mindfulness classroom project allowed each student to think about options for a service project they could choose, determine steps to achieve their goal and take charge of the implementation straight through to completion.

Dylan was one of six students participating in this ‘Random Act of Kindness’ activity. Projects brought students out of their own comfort zones requiring them to act with patience, generosity, humility and gently. Other projects included befriending a peer, writing a thank you letter to a social worker, being kind to staff and teachers.

His first project choice – to write get well cards to children at the Melodies Center of Albany Medical Center and St. Jude’s Center for Children – was blocked due to infection control policies at medical facilities. So, Dylan regrouped and chose to design a donation drive intended to collect enough toys and activities to bring some normalcy into the lives of young patients as well as their siblings visiting them while in the hospital. Geographical location and ability to personally visit the site figured into Dylan’s choice of the Bernard & Mille Duker Children’s Hopital Center at AMC as the beneficiary of his efforts.

Initially excited with his idea, Dylan’s enthusiasm diminished a bit when he learned of the several steps he would have to take to gain approval from LaSalle and AMC administrators before he could begin spreading word of his project and actually begin accepting items. He learned about guidelines and rules hospitals have for items they can and cannot accept. AMC’s child life team wrote Dylan outlining guidelines helpful in narrowing these acceptable items. For example, all donations needed to be brand new due to the infection protocols and the sensitive nature of patient populations.

Before long, his excitement ramped up to match his initial urge to get started. This ‘wait and see’ period taught him patience, techniques for negotiating details with adults and gave him time to refine his approach to asking for donations. The entire LaSalle family supported Dylan’s project and pitched in to with contributions of their own. Dylan also reached to family and friends via email, postal mail and social media.

A byproduct of Dylan’s work was that he also became a ‘quality control manager’ closely monitoring the size and number of items so he could consolidate them into manageable boxes addressing the hospital’s alert of limited storage space. Donations included toys, school supplies, crossword puzzles, Play-doh – enough to fill two very large boxes!!

Working with his teacher, he coordinated a doable delivery time and location. AMC’s amazement at the size of the delivery impressed even Dylan whose take-aways from this project encouraged him to continue making a difference in the lives of others in need.

Guided by his work-based learning teacher, Melissa Muscato, Dylan and his peers shared details of their individual projects during class time.

LaSalle School is a leader in programs and services for youth and families in crisis offering a variety of programs designed to meet their needs including specialized residential placement, day service education, and alternative to detention services. The Counseling Center at LaSalle is an OMH and OASAS licensed outpatient behavioral health clinic located at LaSalle School, and currently implementing ACE treatment practices with youth and families. LaSalle is accredited by the national Council on Accreditation (COA), and affiliated with the Council on Families and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), and the national Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. LaSalle is a member of The New York State Coalition of 853 Schools.

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