By Jeri Kayser, CCLS (Minneapolis Surgery Center)
As you enter the hospital, you expect to see nurses and doctors, but a middle school orchestra? Or you might find a carnival or maybe professional race car drivers and hey- don’t those guys over there play hockey for the Wild?
According to a recent survey of 181 Child Life Programs in North America (Association of Child Life Professionals) every single program celebrated special events. These are incredibly valuable to patients, families, staff and the community.
Patients: It’s a break from the work of healing. It can give you something to look forward to and something to brag about to your friends later. Meeting a professional athlete and scoring an autograph can be a lifelong memory of something positive and unexpected in your hospital stay.
Scientific research demonstrates the value of providing an enriched environment with opportunities for social engagement and how that benefits the growth and functioning of young brains. If you want to deep dive into some interesting findings on this topic check out this study conducted with young mice
Families: We all need to play and a special event can provide an opportunity to relax and do something completely apart from the stress of being in the hospital. Siblings are given the chance to engage in a family activity just as the hospital stay has impacted their opportunities to all be together. Plus, their importance is validated when they get to equally share the experience with their hospitalized brother or sister.
Staff: Watching the cast from a touring Broadway musical perform, or having your patient happily show off a unicorn painted on their cheek, brings light and joy into the work day and gives us glimpses of who our patients are as individual children.
Community: Combining your skills, talents and passions and sharing them with others is a wonderful way to celebrate life. Special events can help the community at large understand and appreciate the work that is done in the hospital. The joint experience of working together to put on a special event helps us appreciate our shared humanity and desire to support kids and their families through their healthcare journey.