"It's my job to make sure that all ASK kids know that they can be functional, contributing members of society regardless of their diagnosis or disability," lovingly states Alma Morgan, ASK's education coordinator and education team member at the Children's Hospital of Richmond. Alma's position is just one of the professional positions supported by ASK funding and a key member of the administrative team that keeps ASK kids on track academically, while in-patient or in clinic.
"I help them become advocates for themselves and tell their brave, courageous stories. It's vitally important that they be able to express themselves," says Alma.
"The kids love spending time with one another, sharing stories, studying together or just hanging out. ASK events and programs are a home away from home and a space where they can be themselves and accepted for exactly who they are and what they are experiencing," says Alma.
That's why she's so excited about the new ASK Family Center, which will provide additional space for programs and events. Soon, ASK will have enough space to expand programs to include college counseling, vocational training, independent-living skills and other educational opportunities that will address the unique needs of long-term survivors.
ASK started in the late 1970's as a support group for parents with children who had cancer. In the last almost fifty years, it has grown to touch thousands of pediatric oncology patients socially, spiritually, educationally and psychologically through special programming and family services. Alma was the president of the Board of Directors in the mid-1990's and remembers when ASK dreamed of being able to offer the kids of programming and services that exist today. "Now we have bigger dreams of more classes, activities, social events and spiritual support. This new, beautiful space will allow us to be more innovative than ever!"
"The possibilities are endless and the new Center will give us space to dream bigger for these kids," continues Alma hopefully. "It's a different world when we're all together, where everyone is accepted for exactly who they are. The kids dream together, support and love one another. Don't you wish it could be like that everywhere?"