By Katie Whitney
When children are stuck in the hospital, Child and Family Life is there to help take patients’ minds off their pain, anxieties, and fears — a task that’s gotten a lot harder in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. To mitigate the spread of disease, Child and Family Life has shut down its playrooms on every inpatient unit, canceled music and art therapy group sessions, closed the hospital classroom, and stopped sharing toys between rooms.
But with a new $10,000 donation from Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan, the staff is finding creative ways to meet the needs of patients and their family members at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “Kids are still being diagnosed with cancer; they’re still on dialysis,” says Lindsay Heering, director of Child and Family Life. “On top of that, our patients and families are experiencing all of the stress and fears and worries the world is facing. It’s more important than ever that we’re able to provide positive coping strategies for them and some play to help normalize their environment.”
Child and Family Life reached out to its longtime partner, Dance Marathon, and the organization responded quickly. “We wanted to contribute, and realized this was time sensitive,” says Sydney Jose, executive director of Dance Marathon. Heering says they’re using Dance Marathon’s gift to purchase toys and games for kids to keep in their rooms. They’re also recording art and music therapy videos for kids to watch. John McInerney, aka “the Lego guy,” has put together Lego kits for kids to have in their room and is recording a video tutorial that explains how to build each set. “Dance Marathon is making a tremendous impact right now and throughout this pandemic,” says Heering. “We’re forever grateful for their support.”
Dance Marathon’s VictorThon, an annual 24-hour fundraiser for Mott, went virtual this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The livestreamed event began March 28 at dmum.org with speakers, videos from various supporters, and dancing. “We [spent] less this year on our event than we normally would, so we had some room in our budget [for this $10,000 gift],” says Jose. “But first and foremost, in this time of need, we wanted to help out.”