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Strong partnership will enable hospitalized kids to ‘play’ at museum

The Strong is the first cultural institution in the region to invest in and offer the program. The museum has purchased a robot that children can maneuver remotely through the museum and that will display their face and sound their voice, enabling them to interact with other children and guests. (provided)

The Strong National Museum of Play has partnered with the WeGo Foundation to help sick kids in hospitals nationwide. The partnership will enable sick children to explore the Strong with a kid-friendly, fully controllable robot that allows them to see, hear, interact and communicate with other guests from their hospital rooms.

The Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong Memorial will be the first medical facility in the region to join the WeGo network.

“Play is universal — regardless of health or location — and accessibility is a key part of the museum’s mission and values,” said Steve Dubnik, president and CEO of the Strong, in a statement. “The WeGo Foundation understands this and allows children to restore some autonomy, childhood wonder and a sense of joy. We’re thrilled to be able to virtually whisk children away from their hospital rooms for some much-needed play. We’re equally thrilled that the Golisano Children’s Hospital will be joining the network, providing these same services to hospitalized children in our community.”

The Strong is the first cultural institution in the region to invest in and offer the program. The museum has purchased a robot that children can maneuver remotely through the museum and that will display their face and sound their voice, enabling them to interact with other children and guests. The Strong also will fund all the necessary tech upgrades, staff training and tours and experiences development that will be available to kids and families for free in partner hospitals.

“For kids being cared for in the hospital, this ability to virtually embark on real-time journeys, to explore the world and make new friends outside of the hospital environment, means everything. It truly helps these kids feel like kids again. We are very excited to be partnering with the Strong and bringing this renowned experience to the bedside for patients,” said WeGo Foundation Director of Development Hayden Dux.

The WeGo Foundation works now with 13 hospital systems, including the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone and Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, as well as a number of national cultural institutions, such as the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore’s National Aquarium. The Golisano Children’s Hospital will be the 14th hospital to join the system and begin offering the services to its patients.

“Staying at the hospital is never easy for children. This partnership with WeGo and the Strong museum will allow us to provide engaging and interactive virtual experiences for our patients outside the four walls of their hospital room, harnessing the power of technology to create a comfortable environment for the best quality care,” said Heather Reyes M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Pediatric Critical Care at URMC and faculty at the UR Health Lab.

The Strong will offer tours monthly through the end of 2021, scheduled through WeGo Foundation, and add additional days per month in January 2022.

“We’re looking forward to this opportunity to partner with the Strong to bring the museum to our children in the hospital and provide them with wonderful educational and interactive activities,” said Wendy Lane, Child Life program coordinator at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Children’s organizations collaborative receives $4 million grant

A five-year, $4 million grant has been awarded to help integrate Rochester area organizations that work with children and families to promote the wellness of young children.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health Grant Program will assist the Rochester Whole Child Health Initiative: A Cross-Sector Collaboration to Help Kids Thrive. The funding will help Children’s Institute and its Rochester Whole Child Health Initiative partners to work together to conduct screenings and assessments to identify behavioral and developmental concerns, as well as provide training and consultation services to area health, early care and education professionals and parents, among other things.

“This grant focuses on improving the lives of children in Rochester,” Children’s Institute Executive Director Ann Marie White said in a statement. “We join with families in ensuring children have the foundation for strong social and emotional growth from the start. Together with partner agencies, we will work to close some service gaps to make comprehensive preventative care for children more possible in our community.”

Noting that Rochester ranks first in child poverty for mid-sized cities and is the fifth poorest city among the top 75 cities nationwide, officials said there are significant gaps in children’s behavioral health services to address the trauma-related issues that nearly three-quarters of Rochester area youth report having experienced.

“Our children deserve every opportunity to succeed, and this grant will play a critical role in helping to put our young people on the path to success,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle said. “Children’s Institute is already doing incredible work in supporting children’s social and emotional development and I am excited that their leadership has been recognized by SAMHSA through this award. I look forward to continuing our partnership as we work to support children in need and help Monroe County families thrive.”

The goal of the grant is to integrate education, behavioral, mental health and medical systems by using innovative approaches that have been vetted and proven effective. Rochester Whole Child Health Initiative partners include Children’s Institute, Common Ground Health, Mt. Hope Family Center, Society for the Protection and Care of Children, Golisano Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatrics at University of Rochester Medical Center, URMC Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness and URMC Women’s Health Practice.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Volunteers sew teddy bears for hospitalized children

legacy-at-willow-pond-logoResident volunteers from Legacy at Willow Pond will get together this week to continue a tradition that started more than a decade ago.

Nearly two dozen residents and other community volunteers will gather Friday to sew teddy bears to comfort young patients at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.

As part of the Friends of Strong volunteer effort, the Legacy community has created more than 16,000 teddy bears for the children who have been treated at Golisano.

“Our Legacy at Willow Pond volunteers share their time and talent in so many ways and I am delighted that their efforts have reached the significant milestone of more than 16,000 teddy bears,” said Willow Pond executive director Michelle Kennison in a statement. “Our vision is to create extraordinary communities where people thrive, and the donation of these bears is the perfect example of making a meaningful connection to the youngest patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital.”

Friends of Strong supports the teddy bear project through sourcing the materials, delivering the teddy bears and ongoing volunteering.

“We strive to create the most comfortable health care experience for everyone we serve,” said Friends of Strong director Sandy Arbasak. “Helping coordinate the work of this generous, dedicated community group is one of our favorite ways to bring that comfort to our patients and families.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer