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Gamers Give Back Reflection

If you’re like me, and have been lucky enough not to spend time in a Children’s Hospital you might not know what we are talking about when we say Child Life Staff.  I know that when I pictured a Children’s Hospitals before I worked at Child’s Play, I only thought about doctors and nurses. To me, that was who worked there.  I never considered exactly who was receiving the toys and games I donated through Child’s Play, or how they were being used in the hospital beyond being given to kids to play with.

What I have learned in the past year is that where doctors diagnose and nurses treat, child life staff educate and encourage. The Association of Child Life Professionals explains that “Certified Child Life Specialists provide evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation, and education that reduce fear, anxiety, and pain for infants, children, and youth.”

When we visit a hospital for a Gamers Give Back visit, we bring along some gifts for the kids and some items for the play rooms, but most importantly we meet with the Child Life staff. We want the whole visit to be centered around celebrating the Child Life staff, to bring joy to their day in hopes that the memory of our visit will help them through a hard time in the future. We hope that many of the kids we bring gifts to will be home by the week’s end, but the Child Life staff will still be there, day in and day out, educating and encouraging a new group of patients.

After we hand out gifts to the patients we have the pleasure of providing lunch to the Child Life staff and sharing a meal with them.  It’s an opportunity for them to share problems they’ve encountered, from not knowing how to play a certain game to the need for game carts to help bring systems to kids where they need them. At this lunch, we’re able to pool together all the solutions we’ve discovered on other hospital visits and share them, as well as help problem-solve the new ones that come up. 

As we come to the end of summer, we’re also preparing to wrap up the 2017 Gamers Give Back Tour.  This year we’ve seen 25 hospitals, with 10 more to go.  Thanks to your support this year we’ve been able to bring gifts to over 2200 kids and visit with nearly as many Child Life Professionals. We try to share the impact your support has through testimonials and pictures on Twitter, but if I have learned anything over the last year it’s that there are not enough words or pictures to express the good work you are doing. 

Child’s Play Summer Faire and Table Tennis Tournament July 22nd

Hidden Valley Field House
1903 112th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 10:00 AM-7:00 PM

Kid on back

Our annual Dinner Auction is a glamorous night to celebrate the work Child’s Play does and the support of the gaming industry.  The Summer Faire and Table Tennis Tournament is designed to be enjoyed by the whole family.  Bring the kids along and learn about the great work Child’s Play has been doing this year while you enjoy a beautiful day at the Hidden Valley Field House.

- Food Trucks
- 9 holes of mini-golf
- Giant Jenga
- Cornhole
- 30’ Inflatable Obstacle Course
- VR Stations
- Watch Table Tennis
- Tricked out GAEMS Truck
- Community Booths
- Scheduled appearance by the 501st Garrison Titan

Tickets prices are $10 for an individual and $35 for a family. Your ticket grants you access to all these great things.

You can also sign up to take part in one of our four Table Tennis Tournaments:

Two AM Tournaments (10:30-1:30), one for Kids and one for Garage
Two PM Tournaments (2:00-7:00), one for Garage and one for Hardcore (Double Elimination)

Tournament entrance fees are an additional $5 for the Kids tournament and $30 for the Garage and Hardcore Tournaments.

The Child’s Play Summer Faire and Table Tennis Tournament is in support of our hospital and domestic violence shelter programs. As of 2016, the gaming community had raised over $44 million dollars to help children around the world through the power of play.

Get your Tickets here

Wellington Children’s Hospital

Back on February 10th the Wellington Children’s Hospital came to the attention of the gaming community after it was reported the only PS4 in the children’s cancer ward was stolen. It didn’t take long for our inboxes at Child’s Play to be overflowing with emails asking how to make this right.

After reading more on Angus Little’s Facebook page we learned that the local community quickly stepped in and got a new PS4 installed we shifted our focus to how the Child’s Play community could have the biggest impact on this hospital. The international date line made connecting with the hospital Play Therapy (Child Life) department and the Wellingtons Hospitals Foundation (WHF) a little difficult. By the following Monday morning, we were able to speak to Shona Brunton, Grants & Major Partnerships Manager for the foundation.

When she and I talked Monday morning she was still unaware how far the stolen PS4 story and the link to the Wellington Hospital Fund had gone around the globe and the outraged cry of support from the gaming community. Shona was overwhelmed by the number of international donations to WHF that had come in over the weekend. Shona shared some information about the hospital with me as we talked:

- Wellington Children’s Hospital was the very first Children’s Hospital in New Zealand opening on 13 March 1912
- Each year Wellington Children’s Hospital cares for thousands of young people aged from birth to 16 years.
- 6,702 sick children admitted to the Wards 27,676 visits to “Paediatric Outpatients”
- 10,253 visits to the Emergency Department
- 3,740 babies born
- 853 neonatal babies (from the region) 
- 12,026 x-rays of young people
- 693 children seen by the Child Development Service
- 2,986 audiology visits
- 1,815 operations performed on sick children
- There are only two part-time Play Therapist for the 2 Children’s Wards

It was clear the passion and love Shona, and everyone at Wellington Children’s Hospital had for the children who are treated at the hospital.  After talking about the work that the Play Therapy team does for the Hospital, I informed Shona that Child’s Play, with the help of our community,  would make a $10,000 donation to the Play Therapy department. This donation was to be on top of the annual budget for Play Therapy ($20,000 NZD) and should be used to outfit the playrooms and teen room, and anything else the Play Therapy department deemed necessary.

Tuesday morning I was greeted with an email in my inbox from Shona that said, “We are extremely grateful for the generous donation of USD$10K which resulted in NZD$13,553.00 being credited to the Foundations account last night. In terms of your request, we confirm this will be ‘tagged’ for Play Specialist funding within Wellington Children’s Hospital.  The response to this media article has been overwhelming & it was interesting to see the interest from the US, Canada & beyond.

Once again, please pass on out thanks to all involved in agreeing to make this amazing donation.”

That is what I am doing here, we try to stay humble about our work at Child’s Play but the resolution of this tragic event warrants some bragging, not on our part, but on yours. The Child’s Play community came together and sent a lot of love to this hospital and your generous donations of time and money allowed us to gift the funds that will change the experience of all the children in the Wellington Children’s Hospital, today and for years to come.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. We cannot say it enough, thank you.