Teen and pre-teen inpatient children now have a place to get away and partake in age appropriate activities during their stay at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. On March 28, the Child Life department invited patients, families and staff to an open house for the Activity Room.
Over the years, the hospital has opened multiple child life activity spaces, typically playrooms, located on various floors of all three hospitals. These spaces provide a fun, safe and procedure-free environment for our inpatient population and their families.
The Child Life Department at Texas Children’s Hospital provides spaces for patients to get away from the medical setting and to enjoy and play as other children would at their age. For our teenage population, it is important to have an environment and activities that speak to their interests. At Medical Center Campus, through the support of Teammates for Kids, we have the Child Life Zone located in the West Tower that supports the activities and needs of our older patients.
As the Texas Children’s system continues to expand our locations and inpatient services, the Child Life departments continue to ensure that the pre-teen/teen population have a space where they can gather with other adolescents and know they have a space of their own.
“When you walk into most child life playrooms, you see toys intended for toddlers and young children,” Child Life Specialist Riley Hammond said. “There are toys and activities still in the Activity Room for kids of all ages, however; this space is geared specifically for children eight years and older.”
Located in the inpatient wing in the right corner on the fifth floor, the space that has been revamped into the new Activity Room. Previously, this space was a playroom and was underutilized due to staffing and volunteer availability, said Hammond.
Inside the new Activity Room, there are many developmentally appropriate devices and activities, some generously donated by our dedicated partners. In the far back, next to a large window that beams natural sunlight into the room is an electronic arcade-style basketball goal, generously donated by Wood, an energy services company, located next to West Campus that is a benevolent donor and supporter of Texas Children’s.
Right next to the basketball goal, is an all-in-one locker, known as “The Dalton Cart” that houses multiple electronic devices and video games. The Dalton Cart was generously donated by the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, a foundation started by a professional football player, Andy Dalton, who calls Katy, Texas home. There is also an Xbox for patients to play the very popular, Madden, along with other video games generously donated by Child’s Play, a charity organization that seeks to improve the lives of children in pediatric hospitals through the kindness and generosity of video games.
The teen child life room also provides movies, board games, art materials, science kits and a host of other forms of entertainment. Most importantly, this space allows patients a place to simply get out of their hospital room. In the afternoon, there is a protected activity time for teens over the age of thirteen.
“It really helps kids and teens feel like themselves,” Child Life Activity Coordinator Mary Reddick said. “This is a room where they get to make choices for what they want to do, be in control and socialize. They meet other teens who are here at the hospital in the Activity Room and often realize, ‘hey I am not alone.’”
When Reddick and Hammond originally proposed this new play space, they wanted it to be easily accessible to patients and their families. The room is open Monday through Sunday, eight o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock in the evening, with intermittent child life staff and volunteer supervision.
Each campus now has a space that is dedicated to our teen population, and this is just one of the many ways that Texas Children’s Child Life Department works tirelessly to provide every child with a high-quality experience.
“It has been a huge transformation, not just with the physical things here in the room, but really I would say, the open accessibility has been one of our largest successes with this space,” Hammond said. “I’ve received ample feedback from staff with excitement that the space is open and being used by so many. We have many, many big dreams for what else can be in this space and we continue working closely with development to make this an even greater experience for our teens here at West Campus.”