When Mary Ann Massolio's son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 9 and then died six months later, she vowed to find a way to help families in similar circumstances face hard choices and tough decisions, including how to continue an ailing child's education.
Massolio has since set out to create 1Voice Academy
, a satellite homebound program where students K-12 can be dually enrolled in a traditional school while taking classes in a sterile, comforting learning environment.
"When children with cancer are in a traditional classroom, the increase for infection due to exposure to germs is a concern," says Massolio. "We want to offer children a safe, sterile environment where they can learn."
In addition to a sterile environment, students can find comfort at the academy.
"Our design plan accommodates students without making them feel accommodated," says Massolio. "Not a medical environment, much more of a home feel. For example, we plan to use bean bag chairs instead of traditional school desks which have hard seats, very uncomfortable for children battling cancer."
Massolio says another goal for the academy is to help children with cancer understand that they are not alone.
"We want our students to feel they belong," Massolio says. "By being surrounded by children like them, they won't feel like they stand out, which may be the case in a traditional school setting."
In order to make 1Voice Academy a reality, Massolio says that the foundation needs funding. Therefore, an open house will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 24 at the Home Theater Gallery
, 3300 S. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Mary Ann Massolio, 1Voice Foundation