Finding the right internal event that will be a hit with staff and patients is not always an easy task. However, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that holding a successful event was as easy as receiving support from an outside nonprofit organization that just happens to know a thing or two about making children smile.
Founded by Major League Baseball (MLB) umpires in 2006, BLUE for Kids is a not-for-profit which strives to help at-risk children with serious illnesses. The group holds sports events, supports pediatric medical care, and raises awareness of foster care children waiting to be adopted.
Though BLUE for Kids coordinates many different events it, "wanted to do an event that doesn't have to be about baseball but one that will put a smile on a child's face," says Samuel Dearth, executive director of BLUE for Kids. The group's children's hospital program, modeled after the popular Build-A-Bear Workshops, is a fun and interactive event designed to reduce the stress that a family experiences when a child is hospitalized.
MLB umpires visit children in their hospital rooms. The kids choose a pre-stuffed bear, puppy, or kitten along with a choice of outfits, such as a baseball player, pirate, cheerleader, or hula dancer. The umpires dress the stuffed animals and sign baseballs for the kids.
"Build-A-Bear Workshop stores are fairly well known," says Dearth. "So, when you go into a pediatric room there's an instant connection for the kids."
"It's great when we can do things to provide a break in a family's day," says Samantha Walters, special events coordinator for CHOP. "When an organization comes in, it puts a very different spin on it and provides a positive experience. If we can provide kids with a positive experience, it will provide [them] with a positive experience to relate to healthcare. That way, when they think about their time spent at the hospital or when they speak with their friends about their experiences they'll remember the things they didn't like but they'll also remember the unique experiences they had as well."
Sponsors include Bristol-Myers Squibb and many local companies that sponsor events in their communities.