Skip to content
See all Press

Computers Help Hospitalized Children Keep Up With Their Schoolwork

Palo Alto, Calif. — Having a day off from school is a kid’s dream, but not if you’re a kid in a hospital.

“School is a job for kids,” says Cammy Sunde, head teacher at Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. “If children in the hospital feel too sick to go to school, and they get behind in their work, not to mention missing school friends, they get depressed. If they can continue with their schoolwork, it helps them feel like they’re going to get better. They have a different attitude. They’re motivated.”

Up until four months ago, the hospital’s three classrooms, which are part of the Palo Alto Unified School District, were ill-equipped with outdated computers, a frustrating situation for teachers and patients.

Thanks to a gift from AMD, a computer chip company, and Hewlett-Packard Company, patients in kindergarten through twelfth grade are now able to get their work done using 11 new HP Pavilion computers powered by the AMD-K6®-2 processor, a LaserJet printer, six DeskJet printers, and a HP ScanJet scanner.

“A lot of kids have to do high school projects using Excel,” says Sunde. “That simply was not possible with the old computers. Now email and the Internet are available to them.” Sunde is particularly impressed with one school in San Jose that has web pages for its teachers to post daily assignments that kids in the hospital can access.

Tom Szolyga of the futures engineering team for HP’s Home Products Division oversaw the ordering and installation of the equipment. “I agreed to help with this project because I knew it would benefit the children, and at the same time, I would get real world experience of seeing how the products perform when used by lots of children everyday,” says Szolyga.

The computers are also good for some children who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to speak. Two children, one deaf and the other with a tracheotomy, cannot speak, but both are able to use the computers. Four computers are on carts and can be taken to a child’s bedside if he or she is unable to go to the classroom.

“We’ve been a supporter of Packard Children’s Hospital for a long time because they do good work for the children. It’s part of AMD’s commitment to giving back to the community,” says Steve Zelencik, senior vice president at AMD. “When we heard the kids at the hospital school were using outdated computers and the hospital school did not have adequate funds to update them, we thought it was a perfect opportunity for us to help. It was great to partner with HP to get good equipment for the kids.”

Zelencik first became aware of the hospital school’s need through his wife, Harriet, a longtime member of the hospital’s Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary. Each year for the past 49 years the Auxiliary hosts Tally-Ho, a horse show and gala party, with proceeds going to the children’s hospital. Harriet’s dedication rubbed off on Steve who, for the past six years, has used his corporate standing to enlist the support of other Silicon Valley companies. In 1998, Tally Ho raised more than $250,000 for the hospital, $155,000 of which came from corporations.