LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – When most people think of volunteering at a children's hospital, they think of working with newborns.
However, there is another group of patients that tend to get overlooked: teenagers.
Arkansas Children's Hospital is hoping to change that by encouraging more volunteers to spend time with older patients.
A couple of months ago, 18-year-old Bailey Reed’s legs suddenly stopped working. Reed was taken to Arkansas Children's Hospital and has been there since, recovering and learning how to walk again.
“I miss my family. I miss my older brother. I miss my Nana,” said Reed.
While most of her days consist of physical and occupational therapy, Reed has found a way to smile.
Twice a day for a couple hours, patients like Reed can visit the teen room at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. They can play games and make crafts or simply hang out. It’s a bright spot not only in their day, but for the volunteers too.
“Seeing the kids and just seeing their smile when you come to check on them even if they don't need anything. Just to kind of meet them where they're at and understand their situation,” said Ashlee Sharp.
Sharp, 27, started volunteering in the teen room four years ago. She originally planned to volunteer with newborns, but quickly found purpose working with the older patients.
“It's fun to invite them in. Sometimes they're hesitant at first, but I think when they come in and they see other kids in the same situation they're all stuck in the hospital that its fun they get out and they don't really feel like they're in the hospital. Just with all the things that we do in here to try and make it more fun than being in their room,” said Sharp.
Arkansas Children's currently has 300 active volunteers. However, the hospital is always in need of more, especially in the clinics and teen room, where just five percent currently serve.
The hospital asks that you commit to three hours per week for a minimum of three months.
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