Please read a recent winning essay from KIDS Michigan youth representative Olivia Ohmer!
Ms. Ohmer submitted her remarks for a scholarship made in loving memory of Felix Junquera-Tejeda, a former youth president and teen advisor from KIDS Barcelona. We celebrate his memory and the continued efforts of all the young people in the iCAN network.
Why ICAN Is Important to Me
By Olivia Ohmer
I can’t remember the day that I received my first diagnosis, as that memory was lost in the process of growing up. I can share the clear timeline from our family photographs; one day I was a carefree toddler that loved playing with dolls and the next, I was still that same toddler that loved dolls, but also, was now acutely aware of needle injections and certainly not as carefree. There were few kids living with medical conditions in my area, but for those few, I wanted to let them know that they were not alone. Shortly after my diagnosis, my mom began receiving calls from other parents that had children that wanted reassurance, some diagnosed with my condition and some that just struggled attending regular doctor visits. Many of my playdates were spent helping kids to feel acceptance and reassurance with their own care. Then, one day, my own sister received the gut-wrenching news of her diagnosis. Suddenly, helping others took on an entirely new meaning and I felt a determination to make life better everywhere I could. This is why ICAN Research is important to me. When I turned 13 years old, exactly a decade after being admitted to the hospital, I was eligible to join the C.S. Mott Children’s Teen Advisory Council, which in turn, allowed me to become a youth member of ICAN Research. I learned that I finally had a broader platform to expand on my philosophy that kids are experts in their own care and that even the youngest patient has the ability to share and improve the patient experience. As Marie Curie explained, “I am among those who think that science has great beauty.” Thanks to ICAN, we are all among great beauty within science.