Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Monkey In My Chair

I would like to introduce you to Skylar.  I have taught Skylar music and art since kindergarten. This year, as a third grader, he very enthusiastically joined the Choir and Orff Ensemble. Unfortunately, Skylar has a difficult road ahead. He was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 Burkitt Lymphoma, a very fast, aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Skylar is on a schedule for chemo treatment for the next six months. Skylar's diagnosis was caught early, giving him better odds in his recovery. But, it will still be a difficult fight--one that no child should ever have to endure.

Shortly after his diagnosis, Skylar met with a Child Life Specialist and expressed concern that his friends would forget about him while he was out of school for treatments. The specialist returned with a Monkey In My Chair which Skylar named George.

George is Skylar's surrogate monkey in the classroom. He will sit in Skylar's chair in the classroom and travel to special areas with the class. George also attends morning rehearsals for Choir and Orff Ensemble. The monkey's hands are Velcro, so it made it easy to wrap around a music stand which stood in Skylar's spot on the risers.

Last week was our Christmas concert, and George was center stage ready to play his glockenspiel. We even dressed George in Skylar's music shirt. I used a few binder clips to secure the shirt and monkey to the back of the music stand so he wouldn't fall over.

The Monkey In My Chair program has been very helpful for many students who had a difficult time processing their emotions. The monkey is therapeutic and can provide a comforting hug when they are missing their friend. The monkey provides a continued line of communication between Skylar and his classmates. The other teachers and I occasionally send pictures of George involved in school activities. But, we all look forward to the day when we can bid farewell to George and see Skylar's smiling face back at his desk.

I end this post with one last request, can you please take a moment to send thoughts or prayers for Skylar and his family as they endure this long battle? If you feel so compelled, there are also links below for monetary donations towards Skylar's medical expenses, to sponsor a Monkey In My Chair, or towards research for a cure. Thank you so much!

Click Here if you would like to donate money to #TeamSkylar to cover medical expenses.

Click Here if you would like to help sponsor a Monkey Kit for another child with cancer.

Click Here if you would like to donate to the American Cancer Society to help find a cure for cancer.

The personal information in this post was shared with permission from Skylar's family.