Adding a Dose of Fun to the Hospital
Thursday, April 2, 2009
A new video game system is giving young patients at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital more motivation to get out of bed and get well.
Starlight Children's Foundation MidAtlantic donated the Wii Fun Center to the Rockville hospital's pediatrics department last month on behalf of Brittany Sullivan, Miss Teen Maryland International 2008.
The mobile entertainment unit contains a flat-screen television, DVD player and Nintendo Wii system with 22 programmed games.
During a dedication ceremony last week, Sullivan said she wanted to give patients a fun distraction while in the hospital. She donated the popular interactive video game system in memory of her grandfather John Sullivan.
"He died about a year ago of cancer, and when I went into the hospital to visit him the last time that I saw him, I realized it's a very dreary place, and I can't imagine children that are in the hospital having to deal with something like this," Sullivan said.
The junior at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney said the entertainment center cost $4,300, and she cited the help of many supporters in raising the money for the equipment. Donations came from the Potomac Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Rockville, Rockville Lions Club and Damascus Y-Women. A casual-dress day at Good Counsel, on which students paid to wear something other than their school uniforms, raised about $2,300, she said.
The game center was purchased through Starlight, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that helps seriously ill children and their families cope with hospital stays through entertainment, education and family activities.
Peggy Brooke, child life specialist for Shady Grove, said the Wii system, which lets players translate their physical movements through a gaming controller and other attachments, provides more than just entertainment. Because of the interactive nature of the Wii, "we are already seeing direct benefits for some of our pediatric patients who are diabetic or are recovering from surgery," she said.
Jack Strodel, a 10-year-old patient, sat in front of the fun center during the dedication ceremony and played Mario Kart, a racing game. He said his family has the game system at their Gaithersburg home.
"This is very fun," said the fourth-grader at Rachel Carson Elementary School in Gaithersburg. "It's good for when you're not feeling well and you're down. As soon as you start playing, it entertains you and cheers you up."
Jack, who had been admitted to the hospital a few days before with pneumonia, was scheduled to go home that day. Sullivan watched as Strodel played the game.
"It's really such an accomplishment for me, because now I finally get to see all of my work come to life," the 16-year-old Gaithersburg resident said.
Sullivan has worked with Starlight for two years. She said the organization is close to her heart because her mother, Susan, who suffers from Crohn's disease, has shown her how serious and painful a chronic illness can be.
Sullivan said she has raised $600 toward buying another fun center and hopes to donate it to another hospital in the county.