Kids Wish Network grants Bowie teen room makeover

A teen suffering from Sickle Cell Disease recently had her wish granted thanks to Kids Wish Network, some outstanding local sponsors and two very talented ladies from the Department of Art at the University of Maryland.

“Why would I wish for something I would have for only one day?” This is what 14-year-old Jennifer said when asked why she chose to have her room revamped for her wish from Kids Wish Network.

You see, Jennifer suffers from a life-threatening illness called Sickle Cell Disease. This is a disease of the red blood cells that causes extreme episodes of debilitating pain and may lead to eventual organ failure or a possible stroke. Before she even reached the age of 2, Jennifer had to endure several surgeries, one of which was to remove her spleen. Since she was born, Jennifer has suffered from severe immobilizing pain crises that strike sporadically and, unfortunately, cannot be controlled or predicted.

When a social worker at the Children’s National Medical Center told Jennifer’s mother Edna about Kids Wish Network and the wishes they grant to kids like Jennifer, she decided to submit her daughter’s name in the hopes that they would grant Jennifer’s wish. After exchanging paperwork, it came time for Jennifer to let her wish be known. Although she thought about enjoying a trip to Disney World or having a shopping spree or something similar, Jennifer decided that she wanted something that would last longer than a few days, something that would “grow” with her; Jennifer decided that she wanted a room makeover.

Of course, Jennifer is not your average teen. She’s a very creative girl with a bright mind, a cheery outlook and aspirations to become a writer. When she dreams, she dreams in Technicolor and that’s exactly what she had in mind for her room. When she thought of what her new room would look like, Jennifer envisioned a room done in zebra stripes with bold splashes of red.

“When she first talked about the colors, I was skeptical,” said Edna of her daughter’s color choices. “But she knew what she wanted and it is beautiful. They [the designers] did a wonderful job of it.”

Jennifer’s wish was set in motion when her Kids Wish Network Wish Coordinator found Ruth, an associate professor from the Department of Art at the University of Maryland. Ruth learned of Jennifer’s wish and she decided immediately that she wanted to make the teen’s dream come true; she even knew of a student of hers, named Meryam, who was in her senior year who was excited to share her talent and ideas to help grant Jennifer’s wish.

“Jennifer is a very sophisticated young girl,” said Ruth. “She has very good taste and we had some great discussions and brainstorming sessions about what she wanted in her room…Just to have such direct contact was great, I mean, Jennifer was really a co-creator. She was as much involved as we were.”

Ruth and Meryam brainstormed with Jennifer and set to work revamping her room. The designers wanted to incorporate Jennifer’s amazing personality into every corner of the room and the finished product conveyed this beautifully with zebra striped pillows on a brand new bed, new zebra print chairs, black and red accents everywhere and all sorts of little surprises for Jennifer. They built the teen a window seat, painted quotes on the walls from a poem written by her favorite author Maya Angelou, and matched everything to the room right down to the light switches and outlets.

Though she had helped work on her room by painting and brainstorming with the designers, when the finished room was presented to her officially, Jennifer’s mother said that “her mouth was hanging wide open she was so surprised. She was really thrilled and so grateful for the time and heart put into her room.”

As an extra surprise, Ruth contacted Maya Angelou and asked the author to send Jennifer a signed collection of her poems, which she did gladly. She also bought Jennifer a television set and a few stuffed toys of Elmo, Jennifer’s favorite television character, and placed them around the room.

“It’s a very modern, very ‘feng shui’ room,” said Ruth. “Meryam painted some beautiful lines from Jennifer’s favorite Maya Angelou poem on the wall and we added all sorts of little surprises and stuff she can add to over time…It’s a room she can grow into, a room that will grow with her.”

“It’s a very modern, very ‘feng shui’ room,” said Ruth. “Meryam painted some beautiful lines from Jennifer’s favorite Maya Angelou poem on the wall and we added all sorts of little surprises and stuff she can add to over time…It’s a room she can grow into, a room that will grow with her.”

“What they did for my daughter is more than I could ever dream of,” said Jennifer’s mother Edna. “They really took care of her and they definitely had their hearts in everything they did. Jennifer’s going to enjoy it for a long time to come.”

Prince George’s Sentinel
Bowie, Maryland
Published: 06/09/10
Source:
http://www.thesentinel.com/pgs/Kids-Wish-Network-Bowie-room-makeover

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48,632 kids helped this last fiscal year through our many programs and services.

Our Mission

Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.