If you saw her today, you probably wouldn’t guess that she is a Project Sunshine kid. Emilia is a vibrant third grader – quick to flash her big, playful smile – who loves math and drawing. There was a time, however, when Emilia and her nana would be in the emergency room two to three times a week.
From around age four, Emilia began suffering from severe asthma. “Her baby cheeks were all red. It was very hard to watch her lay there with the mask on while she struggled to breathe,” Emilia’s nana, Lourdes, recalls.
Fortunately, Emilia now follows a treatment plan that works well but requires regular outpatient asthma counseling. It was at her outpatient center in Harlem that Emilia was first introduced to Project Sunshine. Illness, especially a chronic condition, may not always require bedrest or hospitalization, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t disruptive for a family.
Project Sunshine’s outpatient programming gives caregivers, like Lourdes, an opportunity to build community with other parents and medical staff. For Emilia, our programs provide fun and creative activities, that won’t overstimulate, and allow her to socialize with other children who are living with the same condition. Since becoming involved with Project Sunshine, Lourdes has been able to replace scary asthma memories with new, sunny ones, “it’s a relief because your programs make her happy, which makes me happy.”