Lifting the Human Spirit by Visiting the Sick (LHSVS)

Chicago Fire Brian McBride visiting new friends

Stuart Owen Rankin, grandson of Jesse Owens,
and friend

Three generations of White Sox fans
ChiSox Legend Billy Pierce (center)

Chicago Bulls Bob Love and an all-star team

Sports fans enjoying each other's company

Sun-Times sports columnist
Rick Telander with new friend

Chicago Sky Guy spreading his wings
(and good cheer)

LHSVS Inter-generational

Secretary of State Jesse White with youth
volunteers and Claremont resident


As medical and psychology literature notes, enhancement of the social and emotional well-being of ill patients, can have a powerful effect on their physical health, and actually increase their resistance to illness.  A cheerful visit from a caring individual has become a widely written prescription in caring for the sick, disabled and elderly. 

As a means to this end, Lifting the Human Spirit by Visiting the Sick (LHSVS) trains our youth (ages 10-18) to be effective patient visitors, while providing meaningful informal learning experiences.  LHSVS has been most fortunate to recruit youth volunteers from both public and private schools.  As part of this process, an age-appropriate curriculum has been developed and is used to train youth in order to better ensure high-quality visits.  The trainers include physicians, nurses, therapists (physical & occupational) as well as professional writers and dramatists who teach visiting techniques.

The responsibility of visiting the sick pertains not only to those with temporary illness or injury, but also to nursing home residents, long-time hospital patients and elderly shut-ins.  This curriculum is highly adaptable to a variety of settings.

Once trained, youth serve as volunteers, making visits to patients/residents in healthcare facilities, accompanied by local sports figures.  By engaging in sports-related discussion or sharing personal anecdotes, the LHSVS program is designed to empower youth volunteers to lift the spirits of these elderly, sick, and often lonely individuals, with the hope of contributing to their overall well-being.  Sports are a fitting and comfortable theme for discussion that allows our visitors to “break the ice” and overcome typical awkward moments.  The celebrity of the sports figure, who teams up with our youth, lends an air of excitement as well, helping to liven the mood.

In March of 2007, Team Spirit Institute (TSI), received a generous two-year grant from the Washington Square Health Foundation to fund the LHSVS program.  In the summers of 2007 and 2008, a pilot program was successfully launched at The Claremont Rehab and Living Center in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.  During the course of this program, 51 youth were trained and visited 34 patients.  Today over 350 youth have participated in LHSVS enriching the lives of numerous healthcare patients.

The Claremont’s patients have varying cognitive and physical impairments, which makes the involvement of developmentally disabled and physically handicapped youth as volunteer visitors particularly meaningful.   While most of the LHSVS program participants are long-term residents, some are short-term rehab patients.  The line-up of visiting sports figures include Chicago Bulls great Bob Love, former White Sox star Carlos May,  Northwestern University Lady Lacrosse Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander, Sports Illustrated science writer David Epstein, Chicago Sting founder/White Sox owner Lee Stern, Illinois Secretary of State/former professional baseball player Jesse White, WNBA Chicago Sky players, Chicago Fire great Brian McBride, DePaul University Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto and Chicago Blackhawks Alumni President Cliff Koroll.   (See Photo Gallery for a full roster of LHSVS CSSs).