May 21st, 2024

Fun Center helps give kids a lift during not-so-fun hospital stays

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 24, 2021.

Submitted photo - Child life specialist Jodie Anderson-de Boer works with a young patient playing with the Starlight Fun Center during his stay recently at Chinook Regional Hospital.


The Chinook Regional Hospital recently received a donation from Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada and the Ardene Foundation: a Starlight Fun Center to help keep young patients entertained during long hospital stays.
The Ardene foundation raised funds across Canada last year for Starlight Children’s Foundation and wanted to place some fun centers in hospitals located in cities where they have stores.
“In particular they were really interested in placing one at Chinook Regional Hospital and make sure the kids there enjoyed one of these amazing units,” said Trevor Dicaire, executive director, Starlight Toronto Office.
The Starlight Fun Center is a mobile entertainment unit featuring a flat-screen television and a Nintendo Switch gaming system preloaded with a wide variety of games for every child, which is updated annually with new content. Internet-ready, the units allow children to stay in touch with their friends and family, while also enjoying their favourite movies, social media and much more.
“The donation of this fun center is very important to the children and families that access service at Chinook Regional Hospital. This means the healthcare provider team has another tool in their belt to help support kids and teens during their hospital stay,” said Jodie Anderson-de Boer, child life specialist at Chinook Regional Hospital.
She added that play is essential for children and teens, especially to help cope when they are receiving or recovering from medical procedures. This helps provide some normalcy to their day to day and a healthy distraction from pain or emotions that they might be feeling.
“Either the child life specialist or attending nurse will flag a patient for needing some support through play and/or distraction and the fun center will be brought in for the patient to use in their room at their bedside,” explained Anderson-de Boer.
She said the fun centers are available on the Pediatrics unit for children and youth up 18 years of age, including the day procedure and outpatient area.
“We have also been lucky enough to have some fun centers donated in the past, over 10 years ago we received some Wii fun centers which we have put to good use and are showing some major signs of wear and tear. This was a much appreciated upgrade,” said Anderson-de Boer.
She said that there is no specific time limit for patients to use the fun centers, but because of how new the equipment is, they want as many kids as possible to have a chance to play on it. They are usually lent out for a few hours at a time for patients where it is appropriate.
Specifically manufactured to meet strict infection safety protocols, Gaming stations can roll anywhere in the hospital and keep kids entertained and distracted during longer stays, which has become incredibly important, as many children’s playrooms have closed due to COVID-19.
“One of my favorite ways to distract a child from the stress of their hospital stay or current circumstances is to battle them on Nintendo Switch Super Smash Bros. It is unreal the benefit a bit of play can do for someone’s morale, attitude and outlook on the day,” said Anderson-de Boer.
For over 30 years, Starlight Canada has provided sick children and their families with distractive entertainment both in and out-of-hospital and Dicaire said that they were really excited about Chinook Regional Hospital being one of the recipients of the Starlight Fun Center.
“The fun center will be probably in use for up to, at least eight years in the hospital and in average will see up to over 2000 children a year. So, this is really a gift not only for this year but for many years to come that will affect positively a lot of kids,” said Dicaire.

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