When first-year medical student Dan Dean heard Teen Night was taking a road trip, he knew participants would be bouncing off the walls.
As he stepped onto the trampolines at Sky High Sports in Niles, Illinois, Dean quickly found out that the group of physically disabled teens doesn’t like the idea of being limited in their experiences.
Hosted by Caring for Kids and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the monthly teen night events bring together youths between the ages of 12 and 17, many of whom suffer from cerebral palsy. The gathering provides an opportunity to socialize and build camaraderie, and for the past couple of years, members of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine student organization Nclude have volunteered to help make the experience as engaging as possible.
“Teen Night allows participants to just be normal teens for an evening and to spend time with people who really understand what their day-to-day is like,” second-year medical student Ben Stewart says. “Past events have included movie nights, Halloween parties, and karaoke jam sessions. I always have a great time when I volunteer and the kids know who I am and seem glad to see me at the events. That always makes it worthwhile.”
[blockquote]I really wanted to get involved with the special needs community as a medical student, and Nclude provides that opportunity.
First-year medical student
For Dean, the new president of Nclude, his desire to advocate for, and work with, children who have physical or mental disabilities is not new. As an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, he found himself involved with Special Olympics and Spread the Word to End the Word, a campaign he plans to bring to campus.
“I really wanted to get involved with the special needs community as a medical student, and Nclude provides that opportunity,” Dean says. “Next year we really want to expand the club’s role and be more visible in the Northwestern community. We plan on putting together a few lunch talks where physicians and special needs individuals can come in and give presentations on issues regarding care.”
In 2013, the club also plans to continue participating in the Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics. On March 13, 2012, members of Feinberg’s Icebergs jumped into Lake Michigan, raising nearly $3,000 for the cause.
Members of Nclude, who volunteer mostly with pediatrics, participate at events in a variety of capacities. The mission of the group is to expose students to diverse patient populations in the hope that through these experiences, they will become more caring, empathetic physicians.