A School for Children with Eczema and other Chronic Illnesses

A School for Children with Eczema and other Chronic Illnesses

Elizabeth Scott

At AD RescueWear we want to let the community of eczema sufferers know about different resources available. In Denver, Colorado a school exists for children who require daily medical attention for chronic illness.  The illnesses include severe asthma and allergies, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS, atopic dermatitis (eczema), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and muscular disorders. 

The Morgridge Academy is a unique school which serves approximately 90 children in kindergarten through eighth grade who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. Children who attend the school have medical problems, which have cause frequent absences from regular school. I first found out about this school while my son was getting his haircut. I mentioned to the woman cutting his hair that I owned a company making eczema treatment garments. She was so excited to tell me about the Morgridge Academy that her daughter attends. She raved about how much it had helped her daughter who suffers with severe eczema and allergies. Before switching schools her daughter often was absent because of the pain and embarrassment her health conditions caused. At the Morgridge Academy she is now thriving and her grades and her emotional well being have improved. 

The school is located on the grounds of National Jewish Health in Denver. National Jewish is well regarded throughout the world for groundbreaking research and treatments for patients with respiratory, cardiac and immune disorders. AD RescueWear is familiar with the hospital because of the work doctors at the hospital pioneered and continue to do for children suffering with allergies and eczema; including in-hospital wet wrap therapy for eczema.

The history of the school is quite interesting beginning in the 1930’s when National Jewish was the place to be treated if you had tuberculosis (TB). The school’s beginning is tied to the in-hospital school there for kids who were in treatment for long periods of time. In the 1970’s the school was known as the Kunsberg School and was still primarily for patients of the hospital. The school was staffed by Denver Public School Teachers. In the 1980’s it became apparent that this school could support others suffering with chronic illnesses in the community and moved to its own building. In May 2013, Kunsberg School was renamed the Morgridge Academy to recognize the long-time support and commitment of John and Carrie Morgridge and the Morgridge Family Foundation.

The school is very like a standard K-8 school and follows the Colorado State curriculum so transition back to public school and onto high school is easier. The program is academically rigorous and includes the addition of medical education classes. The goal of having such a program is to prepare the kids to become independent, self-reliant and responsible advocates for themselves. They learn self-care practices, which “enable them to monitor their own illnesses and lead productive, meaningful, active lives.” The staff includes a dedicated team of teachers, nurses, a child advocate, school counselor, P.E. teacher, and Fine Arts teacher help the students receive a top-quality education at the same time they learn to manage their illness and bond with other kids.

You may wonder how is such a school funded? The Morgridge Academy operating costs are much greater than the cost to run a typical public school. According to the website for the school, the annual budget is approximately $1.6 million each year. The state department of education and other government resources reimburse the school about $425,000. More than $1 million must be raised through private contributions each year. It is no doubt a worthy cause! If you would like more information about the school, visit www.nationaljewish.org.