Abington Senior High School student Juwan Adams is not looking for graduation gifts.
Instead he’s decided to ask his family, friends, and network of support to donate to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Child Life services.
“It’s important that I keep helping others and not just think about myself,” said Juwan Adams, Abington Senior High School student and pediatric cancer advocate. “During these times we can all help one another and come together.”
The Adams family lives in Abington, just north of Philadelphia. Juwan served as Drumline Captain at the school, a national honor society scholar, and held a 4.25 grade point average. In his spare time, he volunteered with pediatric cancer patients.
“Usually people will give me stuff for my birthday and this year I’m not going to do much and I really want to use my graduation party as a way to bring some attention to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Child Life services ,” he said.
For the past four years, Adams has been excited about prom and graduation. Most teens are, but unlike his typical peers and classmates, Adams has been dealing with the anticipation and pressures of senior year while battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and is urgently in need of a stem cell transplant.
“Child Life is important. Most children in the hospital don’t really want to be there,” Adams said. “Giving toys, games, and books can really brighten up their day.”
The 4th Annual Team Juwan Toy and Book Drive will launch on June 7, the week of the ASH graduation and will conclude on July 20, on Adam’s 18th birthday.
“Juwan is hosting a toy and book drive in honor of his graduation because he’s been so excited about graduation and now that he won’t have a traditional graduation due to the pandemic he wants to use his graduation to bring attention to a good cause,” said Andrea Adams, Juwan’s mother.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, large gatherings including proms and graduations are now prohibited. Abington High School recently sent a statement to parents announcing their plans to host a virtual graduation and celebratory parade.
“Everything was centered around graduation and prom,” Andrea Adams shared. “He’s even had a picture of him with a cap and gown on and cut-outs of the items he wanted for prom on a vision board. Juwan would say, ‘just let me get through graduation and prom and then I will let you guys treat me however you want. I’ll get whatever transplant I need to get I will do it [after graduation],’” she continued. “We still want to celebrate him and all of his hard work.
“We couldn’t let the covid- 19 pandemic hinder his celebration,” she said.
Four years ago Adams launched the annual book and toy drive for CHOP’s Child Life services. It’s usually a Christmas in July drive but due to the pandemic Adams thought that hosting it around his graduation and birthday will help to get more donations than usual.
The Child Life specialist at CHOP supports children who are coping with medical procedures or healthcare experiences. According to Adams, the Child Life team does everything from walk families through medical procedures, to providing patients with support.
“I’ve been through worse,” Adams told his mother during a conversation she had with him as he tried to comfort her.
“He has his days,” she said. “When he gets really sad and really upset, but then there are moments like the post we did on Facebook about the drive. It was inspired by something he said to me. He said that I’ve been through worse and I remember when they told you to plan my funeral and the fact that I’m still here, we’re just going to celebrate in whatever way that we can.”
Despite his health challenges, Adams has accomplished many incredible things, he has celebrated his prom virtually and with a photo shoot of him and his prom date, and plans to start college online on time.
“When one of us is feeling a kind of way another person in our family will help pull us out of it,” he said. “We have to remember we just lost a really close friend of ours two weeks ago. So many kids are still dying, so many people are still losing their lives. This kind of pandemic is something we have been living with for the past four years. We have had to do a lot of social distancing to keep Juwan safe. We had no idea that this journey would lead us here.”
Since the family has no plans to buy items for a dormitory room or having a trunk party, the Adams family is encouraging loved ones to consider giving to Child Life.
“People will be able to order things off of Amazon and have it shipped directly to CHOP,” Adams said. “There will be a link available on the Prayer’s for Juwan Facebook page and an Amazon gift list for people to select gifts or purchase a gift card.”