I remember reading The Little Engine That Could to my children and watching their faces delight over the story’s prevailing hopeful message: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….so I can!” In an article for Talk About Health, I encouraged readers to adapt a little engine that could attitude when faced with tough journeys. The mantra has been running through my mind again lately. Adults often get so caught up in how things are that they can’t imagine the ways things could be. After 11-year-old Kylie Simonds rose above the battle with a rare childhood cancer, she created an unmistakably message of hope. Her message is being carried via a backpack; one she’s dedicated to more than 175,000 kids who are diagnosed with cancer each year. It’s no ordinary backpack — it’s an IV-Pediatric Backpack.
Earlier this month, Rob Harris (of RobCares) and I had the privilege of hearing Kylie’s transformed cancer-story during a radio chat with her and another young inventor, Kenzie Hall. Kenzie is the creator of BratPack11 for military kids (a program sponsored by “The Boot Campaign”). Both Kylie and Kenzie understand the struggles kids face in moving about; whether it be changing schools 10 times over or being confined to a hospital setting — the struggles can have an impact on health and well-being, and attitude. Like little engines that could, Kylie and Kenzie set out to make a difference for other kids.
At age 11, Kenzie Hall began spending an inordinate amount of time to create smoother transitions for military kids. In 2013, her little engine that could aka “Brat Pack 11” became a non-profit, granting wishes to military kids who have lost a parent in combat or whose parent suffered war-related injuries. Recently, Kenzie earned the prestigious Military Child of the Year Award, putting her among the top five military kids worldwide, at just 16 years of age.
Kylie Simonds is well on her way to improving children’s lives, too. As of this writing, her IV Pediatric Backpack invention has garnered $49,922 of the $50,000 needed to fund a working prototype — all accomplished in two months! Giving cancer patients the blessing of mobility during IV-chemotherapy has the interest of both children and adults who’ve spent time anchored to a pole and tripping over wires. Kylie’s invention has put her in the spotlight as a spokesperson for childhood cancer. September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month; it is the leading cause of death from disease in children under the age of 15.
It’s as if Kylie’s created a golden opportunity to help others understand how treatment impacts attitude, health and well-being. Her life-altering invention led to an invite to our radio show and a plethora of prominent media spots, including The Huffington Post, The Doctors, MSNBC, Good Morning America, ABC News, and more. You might say, she’s going for the gold ribbon but it’s not about being awarded a medal – it’s about changing the way kids experience cancer treatment. “It just touches my heart,” Kylie said.
Who’s next on our radar for Because Hope Matters Radio? 15-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka has caught our attention with his “Safe Wander” invention. The pressure sensor is worn inside on the bottom of the foot or with a sock to detect mobility and sends an alert to a caregiver’s smartphone. Kenneth’s idea was also born of personal experience; his grandfather diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease regularly wandered out of bed at night.
[Featured image for this post is by Matthew Wiebe]