Little children heading into surgery or in the throes of a debilitating disease need all the comfort they can get. SGU students have begun a project to give these children personal comfort kits, called a Josh Kit, to help them get through their ordeals. The Grenada Ministry of Health has presented a Certificate of Appreciation to St. George’s University’s Josh Project, which raises money to purchase Josh Kits.
Since its inception in 2011, SGU’s Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) students have donated more than 100 Josh Kits to hospitalized children in Grenada, and those traveling to the US through the Grenada Heart Foundation to undergo heart surgery. The kits include comfort items ranging from a plush, hypo-allergenic, stuffed golden retriever to an illustrated book called, “I’ll Be O.K.,” about a golden retriever named Josh and his trip to the hospital. For every kit distributed to a child in Grenada, the Josh and Friends Project also donates 10 percent of the proceeds from fundraising initiatives to the Children’s Miracle Network, an organization dedicated to advancing research, training, and care for pediatric settings.
“Our objective as vet students is to create that ‘animal-human’ bond and use it to provide comfort to sick children, so it’s amazing to be recognized for our efforts,” said Sylvia Cushman, Co-Chair of SCAVMA Animal Welfare and Behavior Committee.
“Our vision is to continue making a difference in the lives of children and to bring comfort in whatever way we can through the project,” added committee representative Amanda LaRose. “We realize that the Josh Project makes a huge difference not only in the lives of children, but also families, as they are similarly reassured.”
The Josh Project was founded by Dr. Randy Lange, a veterinarian from Knoxville, TN, who witnessed firsthand how terrifying it was for his daughter, and other patients, to go through minor surgery. The experience inspired Dr. Lange to write a book that explained the procedures and events in the hospital and was uplifting and warm. His inspiration led him to write about his golden retriever, Josh, and develop the Josh Kit. The Josh Project has helped to transform anxious hospital stays for children into friendship-filled adventures toward wellness.
The Josh Project was introduced at St. George’s University (SGU) in 2011 by School of Veterinary Medicine students Danielle Dunn and Sarah Hill. SGU’s SCAVMA chapter took third place for the Josh Challenge, an annual contest between SCAVMA chapters worldwide, for the 2012-2013 school year.
The Josh Challenge is a fun and exciting way for participating SCAVMA chapters around the world to promote friendly competition. The goal is to determine which chapter can raise the most money within their local community to place Josh puppies and books in the hands of hospitalized children. The institution raising the most money is declared the winner of the Josh Challenge.