Meet an Idea Girl: Leanne Joyce

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Meet Leanne, the high school junior from Chapel Hill, NC that took a terrible health condition and turned it into something positive. She noticed how awesome it felt to get a random gift from strangers while in the hospital, so she founded her own non-profit that helps kids in the hospital have better experiences. Read on to hear what she had to say.

DESCRIBE THE IDEA OR PROJECT YOU ARE WORKING ON.

Positive Impact for Kids strives to improve the hospital experience for pediatric patients throughout the United States. I help hospital staff meet the emotional, educational, and physical needs of their pediatric patients by providing them with items from hospital wish lists. Children feel very frightened when they are in an unfamiliar environment with no control over their bodies, hospital routines, and treatments.

Since founding my non-profit, I have raised over $98,000. I have helped 102 hospitals, one in every state. In addition, I have donated 134 iPads, over 1,800 gift cards, gaming systems, laptops, and many more items that have impacted more than 600,000 pediatric patients. iPads and laptops are invaluable versatile tools that are generally not budgeted for within hospital systems. These items are used for education on upcoming procedures, distraction from overall hospital environments, and socialization with friends and family back home. Each iPad affects between 365-20,000 children per year, depending on where it is utilized. For example, one child in an isolation room vs a procedure room where they insert 60 IVs per day.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR IDEA?

I was born with Aortic Valve Stenosis, a heart condition narrowing my aortic valve. I used to be a nationally ranked jump roper, a competitive swimmer, and gymnast. At age 12, I was unexpectedly told by my cardiologist to immediately stop sports because exerting my heart was life-threatening. This drastic change in my life lead to extreme depression. I looked at the situation from many perspectives to find a possible positive outcome.

I decided to turn my defeatist situation into something beneficial. I remembered that one month prior, while in the hospital waiting for cardiac test results, a group of teenage volunteers handed me a gift. This random act of kindness provided me with an immediate sense of normalcy and support. Receiving a gift while I was in the hospital showed me that I was not alone in my battle and immediately inspired me to give back. I decided to utilize the time I could no longer spend playing sports to further this cause. I started researching the steps required to form a non-profit. On November 30th, 2011, I began Positive Impact for Kids. Forming my non-profit was a beneficial way to focus my time, energy, and desire to help others.

WHERE CAN WE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR IDEA?

Our website is: https://positiveimpactforkids.org/

WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED SO FAR AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM? HOW CAN WE SUPPORT YOU IN THIS?

Personally, I battled increasingly severe cardiac symptoms that lead to my second heart surgery in February. Since this surgery, I have returned to the hospital numerous times for testing as a result of symptoms and ongoing medication adjustments. Despite my rigorous AP/honors courses and personal medical challenges, I dedicated over 600 hours to my non-profit last year.

WHAT ARE SOME GOOD THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR IDEA?

I have met extraordinary youth philanthropists as a result of my non-profit. My involvement with the Jefferson Awards Foundation has provided me with unparalleled experiences. The goal of this program is to spread JAF campaigns within our local communities. This group of successful youth philanthropists collaborate to accomplish tasks for JAF and implement each others’ service projects nationally.

WHAT DO YOU STILL NEED HELP WITH FOR YOUR IDEA? HOW CAN WE SUPPORT YOU?

I am always trying to raise awareness of my non-profit and I appreciate any marketing opportunities and donations. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE OR MANTRA?

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice your have.” -Winnie The Pooh

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG GIRLS THAT WANT TO MAKE THEIR IDEAS HAPPEN?

I would tell younger girls that they are old enough to make an impact. I encourage younger girls to reach out to their support systems and communities for help turning their ideas into a reality. 

WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM JOB?

I want to attend medical school to be a psychiatrist. 

If you know a girl with a story like Leanne's, nominate her to be our next featured idea girl using this link.