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Inspired by Classmate, Students Make Gifts for Young Heart Patients

Monday, March 20, 2017

Drew and Vivian shared their family's story and taught students about congenital heart defects

In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, the U.S. recognizes another event focused on the heart: Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. One of our youngest students, Drew, was born with a congenital heart anomaly, and he shared his knowledge of the condition with students in Independence Level 1. Drew’s mom, Vivian Yasutake, visited the group to show them a model of the heart and to describe different types of congenital heart defects. The kids were engaged throughout the lesson and had many questions for Drew and Vivian.

According to NIH, congenital heart defects affect 8 out of every 1,000 newborns. Defects can involve the heart’s valves, interior walls, or the arteries and veins that carry blood through the heart. The symptoms of CHD can be mild or life-threatening.

“We were one of the blessed and fortunate ones to actually leave the hospital and lead normal lives,” says Vivian. Drew still has regular appointments to check in on the state of his heart.

After hearing Drew’s story, students expressed their concern and well wishes by creating heart-shaped cards with personal messages for CHD patients at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital who are unable to attend school. The kids also filled 25 bedside activity bags with toys and games to lift the young patients’ spirits.

Six-year-old Drew said afterwards that the young patients were “happy they got cards” and he wants “more people to learn” about CHD.

This project coincided with the students’ ongoing discussions about how they can help others in need. The activity was also in line with our school’s belief that students must practice empathy in order to solve problems, overcome challenges, and be impactful global citizens. This opportunity allowed the students to become more aware of problems their peers and neighbors are facing and take proactive action to help them.

“This was a small gesture to spread some love, hope, and blessings to the children,” said Vivian. “We take such things for granted, like the ability to go to school, but some of the patients have been in the hospital for weeks and months.”

To learn more about congenital heart defects and CHD Awareness Week, visit the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association website.

Drew and Vivian shared their family's story and taught students about congenital heart defects "I hope you feel better soon" Students packed activity bags to give to children with congenital heart defects "Feel better, get well soon" Students wrote messages on hearts for young patients in the hospital Students wrote messages on hearts for young patients in the hospital