By Jill Fox
A Parkland teen is using his extra time at home to help create positive distractions for patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Ryan Burns, a rising senior at North Broward Preparatory School, is on the JV basketball and track teams. He lives in Parkland Golf & Country Club with his father, William, the CFO of Cross Country Healthcare, and his mother, Kimberly, a Speech Pathologist at Coral Springs Charter School.
While spending his summer at home working on college applications, essays, and SAT prep, he started “Tech Connect,” a community service project to bring used iPads and tablets to those in need of a connection.
Ryan was inspired by his 75-year-old grandmother, who broke her hip during the onset of COVID-19.
“She couldn’t have people visit her, she didn’t have a device or any positive distractions,” he said.
Ryan recalled four-years ago when his father was diagnosed with leukemia and spent about eight months in the hospital.
“He was able to distract himself with his iPad. He Facetimed us all the time, and I’d like to see that happen for patients lacking technology,” said Ryan, who wanted his grandmother to have something to entertain herself as well as connect with her family.
Ultimately, the family was able to send her an iPhone, but not everyone has that ability.
So far, Ryan has collected 20 devices by putting up flyers and going door-to-door. He is currently in the process of reconfiguring the electronics back to their factory settings. He plans to provide cases for all of the devices before donating them to facilities in need.
“A lot of people have unused electronics lying around,” he said, “I can repurpose them to benefit these patients.”
A rehab center in Wellington and an assisted living facility in Lauderhill were the first to come on board, but Ryan would love to find more places to donate to.
He said he is taking the project step-by-step and would like it to take off, ultimately becoming a non-profit organization.
Ryan is providing contactless pick-up from homes of anyone donating a device. For any students willing to help with the drive, community service hours are available.
For more information or to donate, text “donation” to 954-870-3224 or email Ryan at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.
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