RESTON, V.A (WDVM) — Hopecam is working to keep children diagnosed with cancer connected to friends and family during this time of uncertainty.
Hopecam is a nonprofit that gives tablets to children while they are in treatment to make them feel less isolated from their peers.
The organization was founded by Len Forkas in 2003 after his son was diagnosed with Leukemia. He saw the toll it took on his son being away from school, which inspired to create HopeCam.
Since then Hopecam has helped children across the nation, like Sawyer.
“The first time he logged on, he had this massive smile on his face. That he saw his friends and that he was still able to feel like he was connected” said Sawyer’s mother, Jenna Sangastiano.
Sangastiano says she was worried when he was first diagnosed about him not having a normal childhood.
“He’s a very extroverted kid. He loves school, he loves his friends, and that thought of him not being able to have that was actually in some ways more challenging than the diagnoses itself” said Sangastiano.
Executive Director, Lauren Priestas, says Hopecam provides technology to children and works with schools to allow them to connect virtually when classes are in session so that the child feels included.
“Create that normalcy in a child’s life. We just want everything to be as comfortable and for them to be as happy and to promote that healing so that they can continue to get better” said Priestas.
Priestas tells me Hopecam is especially important right now for the children who are in treatment.
“For a child going through cancer treatment they could be there for a very long period of time. So to be able to connect with their family as well while they’re in the hospital has been a real important part of our program and what we can do to help” said Priestas.
71% of Hopecam recipients are from Title 1 schools. For families without Wifi at home, Hopecam provides wifi hotspots.