A dream job: Using digital technology to support healing

jj bouchard digital media mott children's hospitalYou’ve probably heard the warnings.

“Limit screen time for your children.”

“Focus on real experiences vs. screen experiences.”

There are good reasons for these guidelines.

But what about kids who spend long periods of time in hospital rooms, cut off from friends and peers? What about teens who crave even a small sense of normalcy – average teen activities, and even ways to interact with other teens from within the confines of their hospital room? Can “screens” actually be a lifeline in these situations?

That’s where J.J. Bouchard comes in.

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Groove to the beat: DIY drum activity

DIY drum activities for kidsPlaying music is fun, but you don’t need expensive instruments to make music. Using some simple household items, you can make your own instruments and then start grooving and playing together.

DIY Drum Activity

Supplies:

  • Packing tape (clear)
  • Cylinder-shaped object open at top and bottom (cardboard oatmeal cylinders work well, ice cream buckets, or a section of large PVC pipe)
  • Scissors

Instructions:

Remove both ends of the cylinder you plan to use. Be sure to cover any rough or sharp edges with tape. Take the packing tape and make big strips across one of the open ends (run the tape about two or three inches down the side of your drum). Be sure to keep the tape tight across the top as you work. Make an X with every two pieces of tape you use. Keep placing strips of tape until the entire top of your drum is covered with at least two layers of tape.

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DIY Shaker Activity

Shake up your summer with musical fun

mott blog - clv 2015 - musical shaker activity1Musical shakers are a great activity for kids of any age. You can vary the activity based on the ages of the group you are working with!

Supplies:

  • Plastic fillable eggs
  • Rice, dry beans (try different things to experiment with the sound)
  • Tape

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Code Crayon

Child life specialists do a lot more than “play”

Code Crayon - the role of a child life specialistCode Crayon….Code Crayon…Get Child Life STAT!

The hospital world is one of many codes. For those of us who work here, we are trained to react quickly and with great precision when a code is initiated.

Just like with the many codes used in the healthcare world, the tools and procedures that child life specialists reach for when we’re called upon are truly evidence-based, and are an important part of your child’s health care.

As I child life specialist, when I hear the sound of crying toddlers who are having their vitals taken in preoperative bays, I grab the magical bubbles that are packaged in a crayon shape. Off I go down the hall, like the Pied Piper playing a flute of bubbles. Ninety percent of the time, bubbles work to quickly calm a tearful child. The other 10 percent, the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) becomes any number of extraordinary characters equipped with magical toys. Okay, that may be a bit exaggerated, but that often is how my day feels as I enter the PACU and the preoperative work ups begin.

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Gamers give back to Mott

Gamers Outreach team delivering Xbox 360 consoles they are helping C.S. Mott Children's Hospital install in patient rooms.Being in the hospital is a little more fun for kids at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, thanks in part to the generous support of Gamers Outreach Foundation and the Mott Family Network. And, it’s about to get even more fun!

Gamers Outreach was founded by 25-year-old Zach Wigal. When Zach was in high school, he enjoyed a wide variety of activities, but playing video games was a favorite. So much so that he decided to organize a video game tournament in his hometown of Saline, Mich. Part of his goal was to have fun, but the other part was to help dispel the negative connotation that often accompanies gaming. More than 300 people registered for that first tournament and the event raised $4,000 for the Autism Society of America. It was through that event that Gamers Outreach Foundation was born.

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Friday is cupcake therapy day

Cupcake therapy at Mott Children's HospitalSpending time in the hospital isn’t a piece of cake, but on Fridays at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital it’s cupcake time. Every Friday afternoon, we host Cupcake Therapy in the Family Center. Cupcake Therapy is a great informal time for family members and patients to relax and enjoy decorating cupcakes.

Each week we have a theme based on the season or what’s happening at the University or in the Health System. We’ve done St. Patrick’s Day, spring flowers, March Madness, maize and blue and even made Despicable Me-themed Minion cupcakes. Chef Steve Shifano and his staff bake the cupcakes and the Family Center provides the frosting and all the decorations. Ann Hendrick, Family Center Coordinator, and I roll out the cupcake cart each Friday. We create a few sample cupcakes each week and those who come down to decorate use our theme and then express their own creativity.

We started calling it Cupcake Therapy after one of our Friday regulars came down and said he was there for Cupcake Therapy. Continue reading