Teen events offer an opportunity to socialize, connect and just be.

Four to five times per year, the Boston Children’s Pediatric Transplant Center holds special events for teenage post-transplant patients.

It normalizes what they are going through,” says Kate Huyler, a child life specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Huyler works with Boston Children’s cardiac patients pre and post heart transplant and also facilitates teen events for families from multiple solid-organ transplant programs. “Some of them have dietary restrictions, physical restrictions, and their friends don’t understand. This is a way for them to feel ‘normal.'”

The Pediatric Transplant Center began holding teen events back in 2012 as an opportunity for adolescents, 13 to 19, to connect and socialize with other teens who have had transplants. Past activities included sporting events such as Red Sox, Revolution and Bruins games, in addition to bowling outings, painting and apple picking.

“The teens who attend generally come to every event, so it’s obvious they are enjoying it,” says Huyler.

One mom describes her daughter’s experience. “It was heart warming to see my daughter meet up with some of the other teens at the Transplant Family Picnic and head off to play mini golf with them. This would not have happened if not for the teen events. She has made some wonderful connections with some very special kids.”

The events, which are held at various times throughout the year, sometimes include a parent/caregiver component facilitated by Pediatric Transplant Center social workers and child life specialists.

“It’s nice for these families to trade stories and give each other advice,” Huyler says. “They understand each other. And it’s also nice for them to see their child laughing.”

For more information about Pediatric Transplant Center teen events, contact Kate Huyler at transplant@childrens.harvard.edu.