The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday June 29th

Hospital charity The Monday Life helps heal in new ways

Emma Johnson, Oren Mechanic, Marliana Lara, and Joey McMahon showing off the playroom at UNC Children's Hospital. The four are involved in The Monday Life program which helps find donors for projects relating to children's health initiatives. The Monday Life works to improve patients' environments through raising money for things like instruments, art therapy, and more.
Buy Photos Emma Johnson, Oren Mechanic, Marliana Lara, and Joey McMahon showing off the playroom at UNC Children's Hospital. The four are involved in The Monday Life program which helps find donors for projects relating to children's health initiatives. The Monday Life works to improve patients' environments through raising money for things like instruments, art therapy, and more.

Mondays aren’t the most popular day of the week, but one group is working to change that through small acts of kindness.

The Monday Life is a nonprofit founded by Duke University graduate Joey McMahon in 2010 at Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center. It asks people to donate one dollar every Monday to improve the experience of patients at children’s hospitals.

And last week, The Monday Life launched Healing Campaigns, a crowdfunding site that allows nurses at children’s hospitals to set up and promote their own projects, such as music therapy.

So far seven campaigns populate the site in five children’s hospitals across the nation.

In fall 2013, students in a UNC marketing class sponsored the campaign “The Heel Heist for The Monday Life.” With Scamzees as its mascot, the campaign raised over $3,000 to improve a play area at UNC Children’s Hospital.

Oren Mechanic, who works in medicine for The Monday Life and is a UNC medical student, said the process has been streamlined to bring nurses closer to the general population. Rather than applying through long grant applications, nurses simply pick the amount they need, and use word of mouth and social media to garner money.

“Nurses can tell the world what they would like — whether this is movie night at Duke, teddy bears for all cardiac pediatric IUC patients at UNC, or even art therapy at Seattle Children’s,” said Mechanic. “It’s our hope that kids who leave their room of the hospital are able to maintain their hope and youthfulness through this campaign.”

But these programs do more than improve quality of life.

Research has shown that such programs can have real impacts on the patients’ outcomes, both through improved perception of pain, and actual accelerated healing, he said.

Emma Johnson knows this well. As a nurse, she quickly realized that patients such as those undergoing cardiac surgery— many of them infants, and confined to their hospital rooms — need additional opportunities to heal. She has launched two campaigns for patients at UNC Children’s Hospital, which would purchase 350 teddy bears and music therapy instruments, such as a djembe dum.

Johnson said the live music can support the healing process, and the teddy bears will support children undergoing cardiac surgery. But the campaigns also serve another purpose: to enable parents to contribute concretely to their children’s healing process.

“When kids are in the hospital, the parents often feel very helpless, and feel they can’t do their job,” said Johnson. “As nurses, it’s important to give back that sense of responsibility, so they feel like, ‘I can still be a parent, I can still help my children heal.’”

The site has already fulfilled one campaign started by a pediatric nurse at Duke Children’s Hospital. The project, which called for $100 for a movie night, was funded in 24 hours. McMahon said such crowdfunding is more about establishing a connection rather than advanced marketing strategies.

“We’ll never be the largest donor at a children’s hospital,” he said. “But a wonderful goal is, ‘How can we involve the most people in helping children’s hospitals?’ And bringing all those people together, and having them support a cause that translates to better healing, that’s exciting.”

For Johnson, ideas for new campaigns are constantly running through her head. One idea is to bring superhero capes to the kids, as a reminder of who the real heroes are.

“It’s amazing when you step back and you realize that some of the people that you admire most and inspire you are newborns, or two year olds, or six year olds,” said Johnson.

“[The cape] shows the courage that these kids have. And they deserve little things like that.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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