Riley, Garth Brooks Unveil 'Child Life Zone'

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Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health has opened its new "Child Life Zone." The project is a partnership with the Teammates for Kids Foundation and country music legend Garth Brooks, who says it provides space for young patients "where no doctors or needles are allowed."

April 8, 2015

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. -- Kids deserve to be kids – especially when they're undergoing treatment for health issues. That's the goal behind the new Child Life Zone at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. The hospital was chosen by Garth Brooks and his Teammates for Kids Foundation to host the organization's 11th—and largest—Child Life Zone in the country. Teammates for Kids Foundation co-founder Garth Brooks arrived in an IndyCar driven by Charlie Kimball, Tuesday, April 7, to visit patients and welcome them into Riley at IU Health's new Child Life Zone.

Child Life Zones are state-of-the-art, therapeutic play areas inside hospitals where pediatric patients and their families can play, learn, laugh and relax.

"What you witness in a Child Life Zone is truly a miracle," said Brooks. "It's a place in the hospital where no doctors or needles are allowed, where kids can be kids. Hospitals are traditionally gray and white. But this colorful Child Life Zone shows this is a loving, family-oriented hospital. Hospitals that invest in something like this see what's important, and that's the children."

Child Life Zones are staffed by child life specialists, certified professionals who help children and their families cope with difficult medical challenges through play, education and self-expression. Child life specialists teach patients about their illness and what to expect during treatment, and they provide support to patients and their families before, during and after procedures.

"When I first came to the Child Life Zone I didn't want to go. I was depressed and sad and couldn't do much because I was paralyzed at the time," said 12-year-old Chavier Powe, a seventh grader at Chapel Hill Middle School in Indianapolis who was brought to Riley at IU Health's Child Life Zone earlier this year. "It was amazing how I felt while I was there. They had all these art projects, and I love arts and crafts. I was there every night…I really love the Child Life Zone. I wish it stays here forever."

Riley at IU Health's Child Life Zone is available to both inpatients and outpatients. "In the past, our child life services were provided mostly to patients who have been admitted to the hospital. Now, every patient we serve can use the Riley Child Life Zone," said Melissa Sexton, the child life special events coordinator for Riley at IU Health.

Indianapolis joins 10 other locations—Atlanta, Colorado, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Houston, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma City and Phoenix—in hosting a Child Life Zone. Construction completed on the Child Life Zone at IU Health in late 2014. The 4,700-square-foot space is centrally located on the hospital's main floor and open to pediatric patients accompanied by an adult and with the approval of the patient's care team.

"This day—almost three years in the making—is all about the children," said Dr. Jeff Sperring, president and CEO, Riley at IU Health. "It's a dream come true for all the kids at Riley."

About Teammates for Kids Foundation:

In partnership with professional athletes, corporations, foundations, celebrities and individual teammates, Teammates for Kids helps children in the areas of health, education and inner city. They do this in a number of ways, from funding Child Life Zones and supporting Child Life programs in pediatric hospitals, to sports and recreation for inner city children and providing educational opportunities for the underprivileged. Visit the website.

About Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health:

For more than 85 years, Riley at IU Health has been one of the nation's leading children's hospitals. Each year, Riley at IU Health provides compassionate care, support and comfort to 215,000 inpatients and outpatients from across Indiana, the nation and the world. Part of Indiana University Health, Riley at IU Health enjoys a unique partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine, which gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology. Discover the strength at rileyhospital.org.

Source: Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health