Play­ing on, for char­ity

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Loud mu­sic and video games may trig­ger night­mares for some par­ents, but a Seat­tle-based char­ity sees them as sal­va­tion, us­ing the com­bi­na­tion to help pa­tients at chil­dren’s hos­pi­tals across the coun­try.

Child’s Play started in 2003 at Seat­tle Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal and now has a net­work of more than 70 hos­pi­tals across the coun­try, plus two in Eng­land and one in Cairo. The char­ity raises money and pro­vides young pa­tients with video games, books and toys. The cre­ators of an online comic strip called “Penny Ar­cade” founded the char­ity and tapped into their fan base for do­na­tions. The comic chron­i­cles the lives of avid video gamers, and the founders wanted to use gam­ing to help chil­dren in need. Vol­un­teers across the coun­try host lo­cal fundrais­ers to ben­e­fit pa­tients in their area hos­pi­tals. Money also is used to re­place play equip­ment at hos­pi­tals.

A mem­ber hos­pi­tal must be not-for-profit and have a “good num­ber of beds,” a Child’s Play spokes­woman said. Hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials come up with wish lists and the vol­un­teers aim to ful­fill the re­quests. The char­ity’s web­site al­lows would-be dona­tors to find a hos­pi­tal, click on a wish list and send a gift. The hol­i­days are the busiest time for the char­ity, but they’re look­ing to grow their net­work. De­tails on join­ing and how to do­nate are listed at child­splay­char­ity.org. So far this year they’ve raised a lit­tle un­der $800,000.

Events vary, as a Nov. 20 fundraiser in Chicago fea­tured a Rock Band video game com­pe­ti­tion. The event ben­e­fit­ted Comer Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal at the Univer­sity of Chicago. Amy Carter, a child life spe­cial­ist at the hos­pi­tal, said video games pro­vide a good dis­trac­tion for young pa­tients un­der­go­ing painful treat­ments. Some video games with mo­tion con­trols, such as the Nin­tendo Wii, even as­sist in phys­i­cal ther­apy, help­ing pa­tients to re­cover faster.

“Our goal is to make the hos­pi­tal a lit­tle eas­ier for kids and fam­i­lies while they visit to re­duce their anx­i­ety,” Carter said.

A con­cert fea­tur­ing the four-piece prog-rock band Mini­bosses also was part of the Chicago event. The group gar­nered a cult fol­low­ing with Youtube videos by play­ing their own ver­sions of video game themes played on the Nin­tendo En­ter­tain­ment Sys­tem. Mini­bosses trans­lates the sim­ple syn­the­sized beeps that were heard from tele­vi­sions in the 1980s and cre­ate epic gui­tar melodies. How­ever, there’s one song the band re­fuses to play: the theme to Su­per Mario Bros. They feel that clas­sic is over­played.

KATIE HALL PHOTOGRAPHY

Seth Mc­cormick was one of the com­peti­tors in a re­cent Chicago fundraiser for Child’s Play.

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