When Collin Pallissery began volunteering as part of the Patient Access program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, he thought it would give him a good way to explore his desire to become a doctor. What he didn't realize was that he would be learning to care for patients and helping to give them a voice through his first book, "Christopher and Cerebral Palsy.' which was just released in February.
Pallissery, currently a senior at Belen Jesuit, began volunteering at Nicklaus during his freshman year. He began his work by helping young patients find their way through the hospital for tests and therapy sessions. He quickly progressed to helping with the playroom, setting up board games, video games and other activities.
"I found this to be entertaining and super helpful to the children, as they would be involved in activities that made the hospital seem as a “better” place to be in than it normally was," said Pallissery of the beginning of what has become over 500 hours of service at Nicklaus.
As he connected with the children in the playroom and shadowed surgeons in the cardiac department, he became fascinated by one particular condition - cerebral palsy.
According to the CDC, cerebral palsy (CP) affects 1 in 345 children. That makes it the most common motor disability among children. It includes a spectrum of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
"I knew what cerebral palsy was and how it affected children, but in reality, I only had a basic understanding. I wanted to learn more about such a present condition, and with this, my interests were piqued. I found myself researching cerebral palsy through YouTube Videos and documentaries, and even looking to contact nurses and parents whose children had cerebral palsy," said Pallissery as he began his research.
This research, alongside the personal experience through his work at Nicklaus inspired the idea for a children's storybook which could fulfill both goals of increasing awareness for cerebral palsy and helping increase representation of children with the disability in libraries, and most especially, in the playroom at Nicklaus.
Pallissery combined his twin passions of medical and scientific knowledge with writing to produce this storybook and the staff at the hospital is excited to share his storybook with the Nicklaus community and beyond.
"Collin’s introduction of his storybook, Christopher and Cerebral Palsy, has also shown to be beneficial to the hospital community. This children’s book is being spread throughout the hospital, and is allowing for a safe and entertaining method of developing literacy skills in young children during a pandemic," shared Jessica Rummel, volunteer resources lead at Nicklaus.
His hopes for those who read this book - "That children, with and without disabilities become self-aware of conditions in medicine, and even spread this awareness to others; that they learn to treat people with disabilities with fairness and understanding and that children with these conditions learn that anything is possible with the right mindset, hard work, and people helping you."