Sloane Feldberg is an exceptional grade four student who has found special meaning from a very tough year. Her mom – Raquel – has been in and out of Mount Sinai Hospital with a serious inflammatory bowel disease. However, when presented with the opportunity to give back to her community through a school project, Sloane knew exactly what she wanted to do.
Sloane’s class participated in Project Give Back, a program designed to enhance philanthropy, responsibility and confidence among fourth and fifth graders by enabling them to make a difference in other people’s lives. Students research and pick a charity of their choice. They then organize, implement and oversee a short in–class ‘funraiser’ to raise awareness about their chosen cause. They send a business letter to the charity outlining the entire project, a thank you note, pictures of their displays and at times even a cheque.
"I had to choose a charity that really touched my heart, so I chose Mount Sinai Hospital because my mom has been in and out of the Hospital for the past year," says Sloane. "It's a loving place where lots of ill people get treated. They helped my mom with her disease ― ulcerative colitis. She was very sick at first but now she's feeling much better. The nurses were always so kind to me and especially to my mom, and had a positive attitude that helped my mom and me feel happier."
Sloane’s funraiser included a creative board game that she played with her classmates, where they would roll the dice and land on a square that provided instructions related to the Hospital, such as, "You are in labour and you better go to the 10th floor! Move forward 10 spaces." The game begins in the Emergency Department and ends with being discharged – a journey that mirrors her mom’s. "This game is about HOPE, BELIEF, PEACE, POWER and SPIRIT," says Sloane. She also created thank you cards for the nurses at Mount Sinai, which her classmates lovingly decorated.
It was important to Sloane to include the nurses in her project, as they have been a very important part of her experience at Mount Sinai. "They work very long hours and would always check on my mom, even when she was sleeping," says Sloane. Making cards for them was a way for Sloane to show how much that care meant to her.
Project Give Back was created by Ellen Schwartz, a veteran elementary school teacher, who feels very strongly about teaching children the true power of contributing to their community. "Sloane blew us all away with her presentation," says Ellen. "She was bursting with excitement because she was so proud to share this exceptional place and all it has done to help her mom and her family through such a difficult time. We could hear a pin drop as she spoke about her mother’s journey at Mount Sinai and her battle with ulcerative colitis. Our hearts went out to her as she spoke honestly, with knowledge and expertise. It was extraordinary."
For Sloane’s mom, this all means so much. "To have something so positive and confidence-building for Sloane come out of such a challenging time is truly remarkable," reflects Raquel. "We are very grateful that her school chose to get involved in Project Give Back, and we are so proud of Sloane for her hard work, her heartfelt sincerity and her grace as she beautifully executed this project."
At the end of her presentation, Sloane gave each of her classmates a special necklace that she and her mom had made in honour of Mount Sinai. Ellen got one too, and promised to wear it proudly. "Sloane taught us that it doesn’t matter how old you are, that everyone can make a difference … and that’s exactly what she did."