Challenges for Teens in the Hospital

Sometimes teens and young adults who are in the hospital feel….


Having mom as your only company and watching TV all day gets old real fast.

It can get old to be stuck in a hospital room. The Streetlight team brings team members with shared interests like movies, video games, tv shows, anime, fashion, and theater. No matter how uniquethe interest, we have a volunteer who also loves it. Four nights a week, Streetlight hosts the Teen Lounge (no adults) for playing video games, creating art, playing pool, and hanging out. And if you are stuck in your room we can bring you a laptop, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and some really good competition from a Streetlight team member!


Most teens who spend a lot of time in the hospital and away from school or their community find that their friends call or write for a while, but that their lives just go in different directions. They feel lonely because they don’t have a chance to spend time with people their own age. 

The Streetlight Team Members (college students ages 18 – 25) offer daily companionship and a whole new group of friends who just get it.

Like they are the only one going through this

They can ask “why me?” They can lose their sense of place and belonging.

Streetlight can help connect teens and young adults with others their own age who are hospitalized through interaction in the Teen Lounge. Knowing you are not alone can make a big difference. We also have many team members who live with chronic illness and are willing to share their experiences.

Like they are losing their identity

They can forget who they were and what they did before they got sick and instead feel like the cancer kid, or they feel like their life has always been overshadowed by their illness, like the CFer or Sickle Cell Warrior! 

Streetlight members want you to be seen as you want to be seen. This includes using the name you prefer, your preferred pronouns, and conversation about what YOU want, which can include the medical stuff, but it does not have to be all that we talk about.

We work with patients to develop a collage – which is an artistic expression of how the teen/young adult sees him or herself. We call this collage an AboutMe. An AboutMe hangs in the room of young people served by the Streetlight Program as a reminder to the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff that these patients are much more than their diagnosis. It serves as an opportunity for health care providers to see the parts of their patients non-medical identity and connect over interests

Like they are missing out

They may miss some of the milestones of the outside world while hospitalized and may need to invent some of their own in the hospital.

The Streetlight team loves a party! We celebrate birthdays, dances, and other missed events due to hospitalization. We also host End of Chemo Parties and other health care milestones.

Like life is moving in reverse

Being a teen is about spending more time with friends, being more responsible and independent, and having your own space. Because they are sick and in the hospital, they are naturally more dependent on their parents, less in control, have no privacy, and can feel uncomfortable speaking directly to doctors and other professionals.

The Streetlight team is trained to listen. While the team member can serve as an advocate for the patient, we also try to empower the teen to find their own voice, ask questions and request privacy as needed.

Scared of the next step

Next steps include an end of chemotherapy and a move back home to school and friends; a transfer to adult health care providers and the adult section of the hospital; or a relapse and a new round of treatments and hospital stays.

Transitions are hard for everyone, but they can be especially hard when your health is complicated. Streetlight relationships formed over time with patients can help with next steps, whatever they may be. We are here to accompany you wherever your illness journey may take you.

In a spiritual crisis

These young adults may not know what they believe any more. Sometimes they lose faith, or sometimes they feel like God has let them down, or there is no God.

We believe young people find their own personal spiritual life line, whatever that may be – through music, religion, nature or art. And the team is always there to listen.