Garth Brooks ded­i­cates child play zone at hos­pi­tal

The China Post - - ARTS - BY RICK CAL­LA­HAN

Coun­try mu­sic star Garth Brooks be­came teary-eyed Tues­day as he ded­i­cated a new child play zone at an In­di­anapo­lis chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal, prais­ing the col­or­ful, game-filled space as a “mir­a­cle” that al­lows ail­ing young­sters to for­get their ill­nesses and just have fun.

Brooks ar­rived at Ri­ley Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren in a race car driven by Indy­Car driver Char­lie Kim­ball, then waded into a crowd that filled the hos­pi­tal’s atrium. Dressed in jeans and sport­ing a black cow­boy hat, he greeted a long line of young pa­tients, their fam­i­lies and hos­pi­tal staffers, some of whom cheered once they saw Brooks ap­proach­ing.

Af­ter a rib­bon-cut­ting for the hos­pi­tal’s Child Life Zone, the 53- year- old singer en­tered the 4,200- square- foot ( 390- squareme­ter) space, which was funded through the Team­mates for Kids foun­da­tion, which Brooks co­founded in 1999. The space, which in­cludes bil­liards, foos­ball, a video game wall, an arts and crafts area and even a record­ing stu­dio, is the na­tion’s 11th and largest hos­pi­tal Child Life Zone.

Brooks, a fa­ther of three, be­came emo­tional as he de­scribed the im­pact the play ar­eas have on chil­dren by al­low­ing them to mo­men­tar­ily for­get gru­el­ing treat­ments and fright­en­ing med­i­cal pro­ce­dures.

“What you’re wit­ness­ing here in th­ese zones is truly a mir­a­cle. It’s a place in a hos­pi­tal where no doc­tor and no nee­dles are al­lowed. It’s a place where a kid gets to be a kid,” he told hos­pi­tal staffers and donors whose gifts paid for the space, which opened in late 2014.

Brooks said re­search sug­gests young pa­tients who en­joy mo­ments of fun need less pain med­i­ca­tion and have faster re­cov­ery times than pa­tients who don’t.

Eleven-year-old Chloe Alexander of Sul­li­van, In­di­ana, got both a hug and an au­to­graphed cow­boy hat from Brooks and spent a mo­ment talk­ing to him.

“I told him that my dad will be jeal­ous and that it was so nice to meet him. He said that he loved me. He also said that I have a great spirit,” the young coun­try mu­sic fan, who had just com­pleted five days of chemo­ther­apy treat­ments for Ewing sar­coma, said.

Chloe, who left the hos­pi­tal with her mother, Jerri, af­ter Tues­day’s event to re­turn to Sul­li­van, said she loved vis­it­ing the Child Life Zone dur­ing her stay. She ex­cit­edly de­scribed the day she recorded her own mu­sic video there — her own ver­sion of James Brown’s “I Feel Good.”

AP

Coun­try mu­sic star Garth Brooks greets chil­dren at the Ri­ley Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren in In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana on Tues­day, April 7.

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