Chronically ill teens have chance to attend prom at Nemours Hospital

Teen patients at Nemours Childrens Hospital were able to experience prom right inside the hospital Saturday night.

Patient Roshawn Dixon stated, "For me, I suffer with sickle cell. I’ve been coming here for four or five years."

Dixon is one of the patients on the Teen Advisory Council. The council planned the prom for fellow teens at the hospital. "It feels pretty good, because it takes us away from all the other things that we have to deal with. So we can all come together and have a great time together. It’s really special."

The hospital cafeteria was transformed in partnership with the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation. The prom was a neon theme and featured live performers, video games, a silent disco and airbrush tattoos.

Child Life Specialist, Joelle Arrante, said, "When you walk in, it really looks like a high school prom and that’s what’s cool about it."

Patients worked to plan every aspect of the evening’s event, one that even staff say they look forward to.

Arrante continued, "This has such a soft spot in my heart because all my teens have planned this event, so it’s just really amazing to see this all come together and provide them a space to be themselves and not feel like they’re at the hospital."

Since many of the patients have health issues that keep them from school, Saturday’s prom is the first prom for many of the teens.

"It can be a very isolating experience to spend time in the hospital as a child, especially if you spend a lot of time here," Arrante explained. "You kind of miss out on the milestones, like going to prom or graduation or even just spending some holidays at home with your friends and family. So the fact that we can put on this event to have a normalizing activity and milestone for a lot of kids – it’s just great that we can give them that opportunity."