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The Playroom Project: “Interviews with Artists”

I began volunteering at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as part of their third Thursday program.  Each month, on the 3rd Thursday, I work for a few hours on either “The Coffee Cart” or “The Play Cart”  and as I’ve handed out coffee and snacks to patients families and tireless nursing staff alike, I found that they were all very much in need of the extra gesture of kindness, comfort and positive energy.  But little could compare to the emotional connection I would feel while playing with patients in their rooms.  Sometimes I just hand out generously donated new toys and seeing patients smiles reacting to a new doll, or coloring book, toy cars or puzzle made me feel that I was the one getting the gift.  But when I started actually getting to spend play time with patients, I realized just how important this time was to their healing and mental wellness within their sometimes long healing processes.  When I work with the Play Cart, I go to rooms where patients may need extra social interaction.  Their days are often dictated by procedures and process leaving them little control, so I like to ask them what they would like to do. A craft? Color? Or just talk? I usually start by just asking if I can come in, if I can sit on their bed, if they’d like to play. From coloring books, to paper snowflakes and pipe cleaner butterflies, I know first hand how creativity helps them feel less alone and gives a small respite to their circumstance that seemed appreciated.  Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, CHLA, also offers the Child Life playrooms, patients’ sanctuaries where creativity can flourish and children, regardless of their medical circumstances, are given the ability to just be a kid. Childlife specialists provide one on one care and dedicate these ouch free zones to play, arts and crafts, and many other self expressive artistic outlets.  My first day volunteering at CHLA I learned there was not enough funding to keep these playrooms open on the weekend.

That is why I am making it my mission to raise the $50,000 needed to open the Child Life playrooms every Saturday for an entire year! In order to bring access to these places of creative expression for CHLA’s more than deserving patients and families, I will be conducting original interviews on the essentials of creativity with accomplished artists from around the world in an on going series called “Interviews with Artists” If you are moved by this cause or their interviews please donate below:

This Project Benefits:

“Play is an essential part of a child’s treatment and recovery. Ten Child Life playrooms at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are a sanctuary for patients, protected space away from medical procedures, and designed for fun and social interaction. As masters of this domain, patients choose to play, express themselves freely, and engage in activities which distract them from worry and pain. Patients’ siblings also benefit from therapeutic play to ease their stress, and parents find playrooms welcoming environments where they can socialize with families in similar situations.

Unfortunately, the Child Life program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is operating in triage mode. Due to limited resources, we can employ only four Child Life assistants who open playrooms and implement activities for an average of three hours per day. However, it is imperative that patients and families have access to playrooms throughout the day and in the evening.”

~Karen Wirick, Director of Development for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles



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