Ready to Roll Autism-friendly carts made possible through Auxiliary fundraising AUXILIARY
really good at LEGOs. I could come and help.’” Each cart will carry a plaque indicating it was donated in memory of Joanne Mera. Lloyd founded the Bay Park Auxiliary Unit in 2019 with fellow
The Bay Park Unit of Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary found a meaningful way to honor a late member. The volunteers used their St. Patrick’s Day “Cheers to Good Health” fundraiser to raise money for autism-friendly sensory carts for each of the Hospital’s seven floors. The donation to the Autism Discovery Institute was made in honor of Joanne
neighborhood moms looking for a way to give back to Rady Children’s. The unit’s previous fundraising efforts have benefitted the Hospital’s emergency care center. The 26-member unit raised $30,000 to purchase the carts and supply kits at a private-venue party attended by 300 people. With the combination of ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, silent auction gift baskets and gift card mystery bags, the event raised enough funds to buy the carts and keep them stocked with hands-on materials for many years to come. The Bay Park Auxilary Unit meets monthly from September through May at a neighborhood school. Lloyd will serve as the unit’s event chair for 2023-2024 before passing the role to Carol Smith. “We would always like new members,”
Mera, a founding Auxiliary unit member who died in a 2022 seaplane accident. Mera’s adult son Donovan has autism spectrum disorder. The brightly colored bedside medical carts, which can be rolled into the hospital rooms of young patients, are stocked with tactile toys and communication tools to help children better understand medical procedures while providing comfort and calm in the sometimes-hectic hospital environment. Through the language of play, nurses and doctors can give patients with autism a way to express their needs and feelings with aids like fidget toys, picture cards and sensory headphones.
THROUGH THE LANGUAGE OF PLAY, NURSES AND DOCTORS CAN GIVE PATIENTS WITH AUTISM A WAY TO EXPRESS THEIR NEEDS AND FEELINGS
Bay Park Auxiliary Unit chair Mia Lloyd said she was heartened to see Donovan’s positive reaction to the sensory carts at the check award presentation. He was particularly impressed with a LEGO model of an MRI machine that helps kids better visualize the imaging technology. “He was super into it. He was saying, ‘I like these colors’ for the carts,” Lloyd recalls. “And, ‘If you need any help, I’m
Lloyd says, encouraging potential volunteers to find a Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary unit near them. “There’s always a way to help.”
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RADY CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL AUXILIARY, VISIT RADYFOUNDATION.ORG/GET-INVOLVED/AUXILIARY.
12 HEALTHY KIDS MAGAZINE FALL 2023
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