Wolfson Children’s Hospital awarded Mattel Children’s Foundation Grant in support of the healing power of play 

The Mattel Children’s Foundation, together with the Children’s Hospital Association, has awarded Wolfson Children’s Hospital a $15,000 grant to bring the healing power of play to hospitalized children through the iPet Companions for Children in Isolation project. Wolfson Children’s Hospital was one of 11 children’s hospitals across the country to receive a Mattel Play Grant. Each hospital has a different project supported by the grants.

“Mattel has supported Wolfson Children’s Hospital for years. This latest funding from Mattel will allow us to implement the iPet Companion System at the hospital and at the Jacksonville Humane Society to allow children in isolation to interact remotely with kittens and cats,” says Wolfson Children’s Hospital President Michael D. Aubin. “Play through programs like this has a powerful normalizing effect on a child’s hospital stay.”

The program is expected to be operational in May. Once installed, the iPet Companion System will connect to 162 hospital rooms throughout Wolfson Children’s Hospital via the GetWell Network, which provides Internet access. The system at Wolfson Children’s Hospital will use high-speed data networks, high-definition cameras and interactive toys to allow patients in isolation to play remotely with kittens and cats being sheltered at the Jacksonville Humane Society.

“Children in isolation will benefit the most from our iPet program, especially our Bone Marrow Transplant patients because they can’t get a visit from our Pet Therapy Program dogs,” says Wolfson Children’s Family Support Services Manager Pat Kirkland, who wrote the grant application to Mattel. “At Wolfson Children’s Hospital, about 20% of our patients are on isolation at some time during their stay, so this is an important addition to our Child Life program.”

Wolfson Children’s Hospital has long recognized the healing power of pets. The Wolfson Children’s Hospital Auxiliary started a Pet Therapy Program in 1995. Last year, the hospital opened a pet visitation program, allowing children with long-term stays or in end-of-life situations to receive a visit from their own dog. “This is the latest program to be implemented at Wolfson Children’s Hospital to give more of our patients a chance to interact with a kitten or cat, which provides a welcome distraction,” says Ms. Kirkland.

“One of the difficulties children face during an extended hospital stay is maintaining the joy of childhood through the many procedures and treatments they undergo,” said Children’s Hospital Association President and CEO Mark Wietecha. “The Mattel Children’s Foundation Play Grants will support children’s hospitals in their quest to create healing environments that allow children to engage in play and, frankly, just be kids.”

The Mattel Play Grants program builds on the success of a nine-year partnership between the Children’s Hospital Association and the Mattel Children’s Foundation that has delivered a half million toys to pediatric patients at children’s hospitals, helping create positive healing environments nationwide.

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