Students launch pediatric advocacy chapter


Olentangy Liberty High School sophomore William Wang and Olentangy Orange High School Nishok Sakthivel started a pediatric advocacy chapter called the Central Ohio iCAN Kids Chapter back in February with Mr. Nunn, a teacher at Olentangy Orange High School, to promote awareness of pediatric patient and caregiver significance in health care, trials and research. Their chapter is a part of a larger, global 501(c)(3) nonprofit called the International Children’s Advisory Network.

Started in 2014, the International Children’s Advisory Network, Inc. (iCAN) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Its chapters on four continents aim to foster a greater global understanding of the importance of the pediatric patient and caregiver voice in health care, clinical trials and research. ​​Most of the youth members range in age from 8-18, with some chapters having members a little younger or a little older. Most of these youth members are medically complex or live with chronic or rare diseases, though some do not have any diagnosed medical condition. However, one thing these members have in common is all are interested in having their voices heard by individuals, industry, and government agencies who can make a difference in pediatric health care.

In creating the chapter, Wang and Sakthivel had similar motives in mind.

Sakthivel explained, “I joined iCAN just this year. Although I am not affected by a chronic or rare disease, I know how important iCAN’s mission truly is. It’s necessary to advocate for those dealing with these diseases as their youth voices often don’t get heard. Getting their voices heard is essential for a variety of reasons, which is why I joined iCAN and even created a chapter.”

Aside from advocating for pediatric patients, the two have a goal of fundraising to go to iCAN’s annual summit from July 15-19 in Bari, Italy. ICAN’s summit is an annual event where youth members in iCAN chapters from across the globe meet for invaluable opportunities to learn from one another, and to network with leading professionals, including industry and clinicians, from around the globe. Additionally, the summit offers the scientific community an opportunity to engage directly with children and parents, so that they may learn about the value and the importance of the influence of children on research, medicine, and innovation. Along with iCAN offers scholarships and stipends for some members, to bring more people which Wang, Sakthivel, and Nunn hope to do, some fundraising has to be done.

Wang said, “Our goal regarding fundraising is around $2,500. This way we can bring one more person to come to Bari with us. The summit will be an eye-opening experience, and we hope to bring as many people as we can to it.”

Aside from the lofty goal, another struggle regarding fundraising is the time to do so. The deadline for fundraising is March 31. Despite this time crunch, the two are determined to reach this goal.

Wang said, “Along we don’t have as much time as we wanted, we believe we can reach this goal. As I said before, this summit will be an eye-opening experience, so we want to get as many people involved as we can. This means reaching $2,500 by March 31. In the past month, we have done things, such as emailing local businesses for donations and asking friends and family to get involved. Both of us and Mr. Nunn truly want to reach this goal.”

If you are interested in helping out, please stay updated with their Instagram page.

This article was submitted by William Wang, an Olentangy Liberty High School student and a member of the Powell Youth Council, a 15-student-governed nonprofit organization recognized and partnered with the Powell government that Wang created in March of 2022. Powell Youth Council’s purpose is to give a voice and power to the youth of Powell in local decisions and projects, show how local leaders create projects and decisions, and motivate the youth to help their community.

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