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.