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Omar’s Dream Run by Reshma Hyder

The Bay Area is home to modernizations that keeps this region bursting with wealth of cutting edge technology. Often times we see advances in technology that bring in more than just innovations. One such Tech legacy was recently launched by a Bay Area Foundation named after its initiator Omar. At the young age of nine, Omar lost his battle with cancer but championed an innovative technology legacy that may change the shape of patient care and healing moving forward at Lucile Packard Children’s hospital.

Omar’s Dream Foundation enables children that are undergoing treatment or have been hospitalized for long-term to attend their own school via video conference and data sharing using available technology between schools and hospitals. On July 24th 2014, Omar’s Dream Foundation announced that Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford will launch Omar’s Dream
Program and on August 18th 2014, the inaugural class commenced at The Bass Childhood Cancer Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. To begin the program, Omar’s Dream Foundation donated eight iPads and the proceeds from its first Omar’s Dream Run fundraising event. The total combined donation was approximately $21,000.

I spoke with the brave and very courageous Jamila, the mother of Omar. Jamila passionately reflects the appetite and energy her dear son Omar had toward this dream. For someone like me, it was emotionally challenging to write this article because my now 11 yrs. old was also classmates with Omar at weekend school and despite having a carefree childhood and time as a healer, my 11 yrs. old has vivid remembrance of Omar. His mother Jamila and father Zaki are no doubt the torchbearers behind this amazing feat. While taking care of his illness, she remembered her young son feeling sad on missing out school. Omar who loved being around his friends, and his classroom, had an amazing resilience to treatments and not once complained during his medication sessions or stays in the hospital. What he longed though was time with his classmates. Having limited access to technology in the hospital room, he started exchanging communication using WIFI, laptop, phone, skype, videos and all available items he could get his young hands on to stay in touch with his loving teachers and classmates.

Soon enough, this communication lead to classmates connecting online with him and with the support of his parents, teachers, nurses and his doctors, Omar was on his way to having a virtual presence in class during school hours. He joined from wherever he was in his hospital bed or home recovering from the energy draining effects of medical treatments. He used tablet, laptop or Chromebook to have a virtual presence in class where the school mates shared all day’s stories. He would download study material and homework from cloud storage and complete work and resend it to his teacher who would use her laptop and share that with rest of the team using file sharing. Cameras in class at the place of the student would allow the patient to be located at their spot and even freely interact with classmates. The sheer connection and keeping up with classwork and even homework made an amazing progressive effect on treatment process for a young child.

All the technical elements used by Omar for his schooling are now part of the program launched by Omar’s Dream Foundation. The program provides all necessary equipment for communication including any WiFi technology at a school to make this work. Once there is no need, the communication equipment and tools get returned to be used by another patient. This helps in normalizing a young child’s life but it also helps young classmates, teachers and hospital staff to understand and become aware of how life is for those undergoing prolonged hospital stays in isolation. It was this dream of Omar that made everyone rally around the idea of a foundation to provide virtual classrooms to patients across many hospitals around the world.

“Omar’s Dream Program plays an important role in maintaining familiar relationships with classmates and educators by facilitating remote access to the patient’s home school classroom and activities,” said Jamila Hassan, President of Omar’s Dream Foundation. “We at Omar’s Dream Foundation are excited to support this wonderful cause and are thankful to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford for supporting patients’ need to stay connected socially and scholastically.”

Omar’s Dream Program is funded by Omar’s Dream Foundation and is available to qualified students and their educators at no cost. Omar was indeed a Silicon Valley Super Hero. He knew all workings of the hospital and always tried to bring ideas to make his stay an effective and painless experience. His doctors and staff say that he had a very positive attitude with no end to make his dream come true. Omar was known as the Mayor of the hospital….the only kid who loved coming to the hospital and providing effective ideas on improving patient stay.

MiFam Tech-Knowledgy initiative touches upon effective use of contemporary technology around families with young children. We promote the concept of improving communications, collaboration and utilizing everyday technology tools to help build stronger families. We feel proud to showcase Omar’s Dream Run as a cause that needs to replicate across all children’s care centers. We envision use of cloud based storage and improved Wi-Fi along with privacy, protection and safety of young children to make Omar’s Dream Run a successful global initiative. At Mifam, we appreciate feedback from our global readers on new technology that is helping them advance their already busy life with children. We liked how sharing story of Omar’s Dream run also enables physical activity through the annual Omar’s event.

omarsunOmar’s Dream Run is an annual event organized to support Omar’s Dream Program. The next Run is scheduled for October 19, 2014 at Hellyer Park in San Jose, California. Video clips from last year’s event
can be seen here.

For Press Inquiries and more information about Omar’s Dream Foundation, Please contact:

Jamila Hassan
Omar’s Dream Foundation
(408) 204-2114

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