By Anna Gustafson
The children at a holiday program at St. Mary’s in Bayside last week battled complex medical conditions, but that did not stop them from laughing and having fun as they spent their afternoon working on holiday crafts with students from Cardozo High School.
“I love this,” said Arif Khan, a 16-year-old Jamaica resident and patient who has attended the St. Mary’s Pediatric Day Health Care Program for years. “I really like today because I like to do art. I like to draw.”
About 15 students from Cardozo High School’s leadership class went to St. Mary’s Healthcare System at 29-10 216th St. in Bayside Dec. 22 to spread some holiday cheer to participants in the hospital’s pediatric after-school program. Children in the program have a wide range of medical problems, including diabetes, cerebral palsy, autism, obesity and asthma.
The high school students worked on holiday puppets with the children.
“They get special attention today,” said Allison McGeough, supervisor of the pediatric program. “They love it.”
Students from Cardozo, located at 5700 223rd St. in Bayside, said they were thrilled to work with the children last week.
“This is my favorite time, when we go outside of school and come to help the kids,” said Cardozo senior Sidnei Afari, 17, of Jamaica Estates. “The feeling you get afterwards is the best. I know I made someone’s Christmas better.”
Cardozo junior Khianna Parks, 16, of Jamaica said she appreciates that the high school’s leadership class takes them out of the school to meet with people they might otherwise not have a chance to spend time with, including disabled children and individuals who are homeless.
“You get to learn so much from their experiences,” Parks said.
There are 36 students this year in Cardozo’s leadership class, in which students do a variety of fund-raising activities and volunteer work. They organized a canned food drive at Thanksgiving and recently held a multicultural festival that raised about $700, which they used to buy gifts for St. Mary’s and New York Hospital Queens in Flushing.
Students gave Wii game system controllers and a digital camera to St. Mary’s.
“The class teaches the students how to basically be good people,” said Barbra Klein, coordinator of student activities at Cardozo. “I want the kids to understand how fortunate they are to be able to walk and talk.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.