Although children’s hospitals can at times seem like a place of great sadness, owing to the gravity of the illnesses that these young people often face, they can also be pillars of great triumphs. This past June, the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas Texas opened a room dedicated explicitly to teen patients staying at the hospital. The idea for this teen room, officially known as “Carson’s Corner” came about after Annette Leslie reflected on her own son Carson’s experience in the hospital after receiving a diagnosis at 14 of medulloblastoma. This particular type of cancer targets the brain, and Carson passed away from this illness at the age of 17.
Annette recalled how lonely some of those days could be for her son when he was undergoing treatments, and she liked the idea of creating a space for ill teenagers that would provide a retreat for them where they could socialize with each other, relax and just have some fun. Although the hospital, like many already has a playroom for smaller children, this space is specifically for the 13 plus crowd. The space is equipped with supplies for all kinds of fun activities including art supplies, TVs, an Xbox, books and magazines. There’s even a “doodle book” – almost like a guest log, that allows the teens to leave positive messages for each other, or leave drawings of their own in there. This cover of this book reveals pictures of Carson.
In addition to providing these young patients with a myriad of activities, Carson’s Corner is also furnished with cozy couches. Both Carson’s Mom and child life team leader, Melinda Goff knew that all of these touches were critical in establishing the room as a unique space clearly differentiated from the rest of the hospital. Goff also claimed, “It was really important to us that it wasn’t a space that felt like it was just for one purpose”.
Those most concerned with the design of the space knew the importance of curating an environment that welcomes a vast array of interests and can be easily converted to accommodate the needs of those occupying the space. Funding for Carson’s Corner comes from the Carson Leslie Foundation, which also funds trips four times each year for teens battling cancer.
Annette Leslie was inspired to create a foundation to provide this room and these trips based on a request made by her son towards the very end of his brief life. After confiding in his mother that he had thought he was going to make it, Carson said,
“ Mom, don’t let them bury me. Make sure they study those tumors in my brain because if those tumors could help some kid someday not die from cancer like I am, I’d like that – it’s hard to have cancer.”
With that in mind, Leslie created the Carson Leslie Foundation with the intention of funding research on pediatric research and to encourage teens grappling with the illness. Currently the Carson Leslie Foundation is helping to fund projects at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas Tech University HEalth Science Center and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. This is all in addition to the funding the space at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Carson Leslie’s giving nature will continue on even after his death through the people who knew him, the admirable causes funded by the Carson Leslie Foundation and those positively impacted by his legacy.