San Leandro’s George Mark Children’s House taking unique approach to healing

Bay Area

SAN LEANDRO (KRON) — Jabari Ethan Cooks was the apple of his parent’s eye.

“He was 17-months-old when he passed.  That was 7 years ago,” his mother said. 

His mom and dad were able to spend a last few precious minutes with their sick baby boy suffering from a terminal illness.

“Being with Jabari in those last moments and being able to have those last moments be with a smile, those are good for people to move on and be able to get through life as you lose a child,” said Jabari’s father, Reggie Cooke. 

Dr. Joan Fisher is there to help parents deal with the pain of losing a child at George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro. 

The hospital aims to make a child’s life the best it can be no matter how long they have left. 

“I often say to a family it doesn’t matter that you have ten days ten months ten years, it’s always not enough, they’re your children,” Fisher said. 

At the George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, a tile is placed on a wall in honor of every child who’s passed away — children like Jabari. 

“George Mark Children’s House is not a home really, but for many of these families it’s the closest they can come to it.” 

Not all children come to die.  

Others come to live their best life. 

Therapists interact with kids who might otherwise be stuck in a cold hospital room.

Dr. Kathy Hull is the founder of George Mark Children’s House.

“And we thought really?  Can’t we get these kids out of the hospital and into somewhere that feels more healing,” Hull said. 

There are visiting therapy dogs to provide a sense of calm and brighten a child’s day.

Other children with severe physical limitations can experience hydrotherapy and their earthbound bodies are buoyant.

And then there’s Charlie and his family.

Charlie is the hospital’s ambassador.

He’s a whiz at playing video games with his feet.  

He came here as a small child who wasn’t expected to live long due to his physical and medical challenges.  

“I trim his mustache and his sister cuts his hair. You got to keep up the look when you’re the ambassador,” his mother, Kathy Cleberg, said. 

Charlie has been coming here for more than 15 years and expects to entertain the staff for another 15.

 Tuesday was a special day for kids at George Mark Children’s House.

Both the Oakland and San Diego zoos came by along with some animal ambassadors and you can bet it made their day.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Tracking COVID-19 in the Bay Area

Trending Stories

Latest News

More News