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A Reflection on 2017

The end of 2017 is almost upon us. We hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season, with a richly deserved break. Child’s Play had a great year, so much so that to summarize it all in a single post is a little intimidating. We’d better get started!

Partner Hospitals

First and foremost, we’ve added 18 new hospitals to our network, one notable addition is Wellington Children’s Hospital in New Zealand. Helping hospitals is the very foundation of Child’s Play, and every hospital that we add is another opportunity to improve the lives of the patients in their care. This year we were smarter about how we gave to our partner hospitals.  For the first time, all our partner hospitals were able to customize their annual in-kind gift with Xbox Ones, PS4s, or 3DS depending on what they need.  We partnered with FullyLoaded Electronics so that every console we sent had around 15 games fully installed so that the Child Life staff wouldn’t have to deal with lost or scratched disks.

Child’s Play Auction 2017

Dinner Pic

The Annual Child’s Play Charity Dinner Auction was December 14th, 2017. With over 200k raised, it was a fantastic year for us. We were blessed with incredible generosity from our lot donors this year and saw some ferocious bidding wars. A particular highlight was a lot to play D&D with Dungeon Master supreme Chris Perkins, which saw a duel that reached 12 thousand dollars before he agreed to DM a game for both parties for a total of 24k.

This year also included an eBay auction for the first time, allowing people who weren’t able to make it to the auction itself to contribute. Actress Felicia Day kindly donated several costumes from her hit shows “The Guild” and “Dragon Age: Redemption”, which raised over five thousand dollars to add to the total. Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue this tradition for years to come.

If you want to see the photo booth pictures from the dinner, you can find them here.  There are some fun photos that we are excited to share with you.

Domestic Violence Shelter Initiatives

Our core mission at Child’s Play is to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances through the power of play. In our initial launch of support to Domestic Violence Shelters, we sent the cart pictured below:
Original Cart

We can now provide the same amount of entertainment in a space that looks more like this:
New Case

We are just wrapping up a 6 month pilot for how to improve our support to Domestic Violence shelters. Working with FullyLoaded and GAEMS we sent 10 shelters a GAEMS case with a fully-equipped PS4, loaded with games that were hand picked with the understanding of the sensitive nature of the shelter environment in mind.The really astonishing thing about these systems, is that they’re almost three times cheaper than the carts we were providing before. These innovations are going to make a big difference to all aspects of our mission.

Aside from the pure entertainment and therapeutic value of gaming, these systems provide an invaluable opportunity for staff to build relationships and rapport with the kids in domestic violence programs. Children who have been subject to trauma and abuse are understandably reluctant to build new relationships with people, and the shared experience of playing games together provides common ground. Gaming can be an incredible tool to help break down the barriers that victims of abuse put up around themselves, allowing them to feel a sense of normality and fun at an incredibly difficult time.

Grant Program

This year we have funded over three times as many grants as we did in 2016. One of the grants we are most excited to share with you was a Gaming and Technology Specialist.

All the equipment in the world is no use without the hard work of Child Life Specialists in the hospitals that we help. Hospitals can be a strange and stressful environment for children, and Child Life Specialists are vital to helping them navigate that environment and improve outcomes for both patients and families.  Unfortunately, technology (especially games technology) is a fast-moving field, and in many cases, Child Life staff are unable to receive the training needed to use new technologies to the full extent of their therapeutic potential. Clinical demands are often simply too high for staff to be able to dedicate that kind of time to research best practices.

Children’s Hospital Colorado saw the need for a Gaming & Technology Specialist but knew that it would be difficult for the hospital to devote funding to it. They applied for a grant from Child’s Play and we were able to help out, allowing them to hire Mike Kundrat to fill that role in August.

We think their own words say it best: “Mike’s impact has already been greatly felt across CHCO. We have seen patients who would not move certain parts of their bodies get so engaged in virtual reality that they moved beyond expectations.  We have seen kids who felt alone and isolated join with other patients to play and get to know each other.

We have a patient that has been with us for several years, he is unable to move from the neck down.  Through the creativity of the child life specialist and the gaming technologist, he now can game and has successfully used AR and VR. Imagine the complete change/transformation for this young man! It has been inspirational for the patient, his family, and his medical team.” Child Life Staff is incredibly important to the happiness and welfare of the children in their care, and we’re delighted to be able to help fund specialist staff to help unlock the therapeutic potential of gaming.

Other grants we are proud of include a grant for the Atlantic Street Center in Seattle, the second year of the iPads for kids program with the Bungie Foundation, and a grant to Random Acts to help build a school in Nicaragua.  These examples are just scraping the surface of the nearly 100 grants we funded this year.  All of these amazing programs are possible for one reason, you. Your support of Child’s Play through donations and events allow you to impact well over a million lives a year.

Thank you.