Faith-Maria was diagnosed with Leukemia as a kindergartner and underwent months of on and off treatment. It became especially challenging when she had a near-fatal reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs, according to her mother Yvonne Nguyen, and required her to have an alternative involving a series of painful injections. Her daughter remained strong, trying to handle tasks without asking for help, but missed her school.
When she completed treatment, she was approached by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which offers wishes to children with critical illnesses. Nguyen said Faith-Maria was presented a lot of possibilities, like a trip to Disney World. Nguyen reminded her daughter about all the prayers and cards and help that she received from her private school, St. Anthony Elementary School in Renton.
“‘Is this a wish you want to keep for yourself, or that you want to share to everyone in the school?’” She recalled asking Faith-Maria.
“It didn’t take my girl long to say she wanted to share the wish with the school.”
The family then called the principal, who told them one of the school’s needs was a smart board. Now at the beginning of her third grade year, the school is getting Faith-Maria’s wish.
Jessica Mathews, senior communications and marketing manager with Make-a-Wish for Alaska and Washington said it’s rare for a child to ask for something for others— about 80 percent of the wishes involve travel. “I wish to give,” is what they call the category of kids who struggled through an illness and now want to use their wish help others.
Matthews, who was Faith-Maria’s Make-a-Wish volunteer, said the family immediately talked to her about how supportive the St. Anthony’s community was, and that the school was welcoming when Faith-Maria came back to school, taking steps like sanitizing everything in her classroom to accommodate her. Mathews said the volunteers are trained to make sure they’re getting the child’s wish and not being influenced by others.
At the unveiling on Thursday, Sept. 12 at St. Anthony, 8-year-old Faith-Maria said she really liked seeing the smart board.
Promethean World, an education software company headquartered in Seattle, donated two ActivPanels for the school through Make-a-Wish. The devices are a touch screen white board with internet and device-mirroring capabilities. At the unveiling, kids got to try out the board and see how much fun they could have with learning on the screen.
“It’s not just a smart board for us, it carries so much meaning,” Nguyen said.
One ActivPanel will be in Faith-Maria’s third grade classroom, and the other one will be in the art room for all students to use.