One of the earliest expansions for Friends of Kids with Cancer, EdMAP, logically followed the Toy Closets/Toy Chests program. With kids missing so much school from treatment, they needed more mental stimulation than just playing with toys. Rather than just take their mind off of their treatment, we wanted to put their mind TO something. And even when kids are doing their schoolwork, or playing educational games, we still manage to make them smile. Thanks to Tom the Tutor.
There are three distinct services provided by Tom Mulvihill, who has been running the program for 13 years. Most visibly, he makes visits to the clinics twice a week to each treatment center. This is to provide educational games and cognitive development for these kids who miss at least one day a week from school, if not more.
He also takes appointments with kids at his private office, the Webster Groves Learning Center, which provides ongoing academic assistance even after treatment, to battle the long-term cognitive effects of toxic treatments. He makes home visits by request when necessary. More important than test scores are the scores of confidence the kids get from working with Tom. He creates a bond with children while maintaining their respect, allowing him to stay on task while having fun.
This program specifically ties maintaining schoolwork with a positive mental attitude towards treatment. With much of a child's social circle revolving around school, EdMAP motivates the kids to keep up with school; this translates into motivation to finish treatment and get back to a normal life. Tom helps them discover the need to keep up with school, no matter what the diagnosis, because he believes they will beat this disease and be back in school. And just like he translates their homework so they can understand it, he transfers that belief to each and every child.