Nonprofit, Room For Joy, Redesigns Bedrooms for Kids With Chronic Illnesses

Growing up, Tory Smock saw her bedroom as a sanctuary, a needed respite from hospital visits to correct her scoliosis.

Now an interior designer, Smock spends her time redesigning bedrooms for children with chronic illnesses. To facilitate these makeovers, Smock created Room For Joy, a nonprofit organization in Mesa, Ariz., that puts together creative and medically appropriate bedrooms for kids with medical challenges.

A beach-themed room completed by Room For Joy for Dylan, age 14.

“Our goal is to go above and beyond the child’s expectations and to not just put some paint on the wall and change the bed coverings,” Smock told The Mighty. “We want them to feel like they have been transported to a magical place.”

And they do it all in a single weekend.

Smock and her team work with child life specialists at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Cardon Children’s Hospital and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center to identify children in the Phoenix Valley area who are a good fit for a room renovation. Smock then meets with the children and their families to get to know them before scheduling a weekend for the makeover to take place.

An art and music-themed room completed by Room For Joy for Luz, age 10.

This past weekend, Smock and her team renovated the bedroom of 17-year-old Shonalisa, who was born with a condition called OEIS syndrome. Due to her condition, Shonalisa was born without a bladder and has developmental delays.

Shonalisa's new room

The theme for Shonalisa’s room was inspired by her love of the Disney movie “Cars,” and the character Lightning McQueen.

Shonalisa’s bedroom is the 44th makeover Room For Joy has completed since its inception in December 2005 . The cost of the makeovers — and the mini-vacations Smock sends families on while the renovation takes place — are all underwritten by donors.

Shonalisa seeing her new room

After renovating her own daughter’s bedroom, Smock know how healing these makeovers can be. According to Smock, her daughter’s new bedroom helped her get through a major procedure for scoliosis.

Shonalisa's new room

“Being able to understand the importance of a healing environment from both the child’s as well as the parent’s perspective has given me a unique ability to relate to the children and their families in a special way,” she said.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

two people talking while drinking coffee.

What Years of Hiding Taught Me About Living With a Chronic Illness

I used to hide. I spent years hiding my illnesses from my family, my friends and sometimes even my husband. People close to me knew I was sick, but I tried really hard not to discuss it. I would say things like, “Oh, we are doing great. I’m fine, don’t you worry about me.” I said [...]
mom with her two daughters

My One Piece of Advice for Parents Fighting for Their Child's Health

For the first time in well over five years we have been away for two days and had a lovely, sunny, worry-free time. Normally we would constantly worry about being out. My daughter Molly can feel quite poorly a lot of the time which makes things really difficult. We try and do our best so [...]
Leaky silver faucet over a sink

The ‘Leaky Faucet’ Metaphor to Consider Before Offering Advice About a Chronic Illness

When you’re sick or have a problem, people have this instinct to try and fix it. We all have this urge and offer unsolicited advice or thoughts in just about everything. It’s one of the ways we relate to each other as a species, irritating though that may be. When you’re having problems with your [...]
girl sitting on hospital bed

When It Was Time for Me to Move From the Children's Hospital to the Adult Hospital

I cannot tell you how much I dislike being an adult within the health services. I thought growing up would be a good experience, but living with illness and having to move from children to adult services is really hard. I always knew I would have to move from children to adult services and I [...]