By Alicia Doyle

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JOE LUMAYA/SPECIAL TO THE STAR Sarah Bartschi (right), with the nonprofit Hope’s Haven, helps Julie Wong, Simi Valley Hospital child development center manager, attach the strap on one of the iPad minis donated to the center.

Nonprofit donates iPads to child development center

at Simi Valley Hospital


December 12, 2014/Ventura County Star


SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -Hope’s Haven has donated 10 iPad minis to the child development center at Simi Valley Hospital to benefit children with autism and cerebral palsy as well as those who are recovering from stroke or traumatic accidents.

“The mission of Hope’s Haven is to improve the quality of life and reduce the stress of a child going through a life-threatening illness or injuries,” said Christina Conley, executive director of Hope’s Haven, nonprofit that serves families in Ventura County.

The iPad minis, which each included a case and charging station, are valued at $6,787.

“When I found out that the nurses were bringing their own iPads in from home ... that further emphasized that they need it,” Conley said.

The iPad minis were donated Friday at an event with officials from the hospital in attendance, including Steve Sojka, director of marketing, and Michelle Foster, president of the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation.

“We’re so grateful to Hope’s Haven,” Foster told Conley. “The partnership that you have with the community enabled us to make sure that the community is well cared for. ... The children who have these life-threatening illnesses will benefit from this generosity, but others, as well.”

The iPad minis will help those at the child development center, an outpatient rehabilitation clinic, unlock their potential, said Julie Wong, the center’s manager.

“It doesn’t necessarily matter about the formal label. It could be a child who has a brain tumor. It could be a child who had a traumatic accident or stroke,” Wong said. “The iPads and technology are astonishing these days; it really has opened up a world for our kids that they didn’t have access to before.”

The donated iPad minis are half the size of the iPad used as an assistive device by patient Victor Hoang, age 4, who was diagnosed with autism.

“This particular young man uses it to communicate as well as to do fine motor work ... so when you think about tote-ability and being able to take it from one place to the next for a child that small, having something bulky is not as user-friendly,” Wong said.

“And because of the animation and the applications, it acts as a magnet for other children, so it helps bridge that gap that sometimes happens with our kids,” Wong said. “Communication is a two-way street ... whether it’s through that iPad or through sign language, an assistive-technology device can open that door.”

Lowena Ibera-Bunag, Victor’s occupational therapist, said the iPad is a motivator and tool.

“He works well with structured activity, so we try to do a visual schedule ... giving him the visual cue to what we’ll be doing next,” Ibera-Bunag said. “As a motivator, a lot of kids like the graphic, the sounds ... so they tend to participate more.”

Chi Hoang, Victor’s mother, said the iPad helps her son communicate what he wants. When he’s hungry, for instance, he’ll tap on the key with a picture of food.

“Because he can’t speak, he can go on here and show me what he wants; it helps a lot because it’s easier for communication,” said Hoang, of Simi Valley. “For me, it’s easier and faster so I can understand him. It’s amazing.”




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