Gamers Give Back in SoCal!

Sometimes you have to bring some attention to the needs of your own local region. This month, we brought the Gamers Give Back Tour to Southern California and didn’t hold back in spreading our mission to the good folks right here in our own backyard.

It was a colder than usual week in Southern California but that wasn’t going to stop us and Child’s Play Charity from doing what we came to do; Helping our partners who are actually our neighbors.

The week started off at Miller children’s hospital in Long Beach. It was there that we walk the halls handing out many different toys and were able to talk with their team of child life staff members over delicious pizza from Buono’s, a favorite local Italian establishment.

 

The childcare staff at Miller had many different questions and we were able to answer all of them with confidence about how we could help maximize their potential in the gaming space.

One of the things we all appreciated about Miller was the emphasis on family and togetherness. Just as our values reflect caring for one another during difficult times, Miller Children’s Hospital also makes it possible for all family members to feel included while they go through a time that can be very tough for them and especially the patients.

Our next stop was at UCLA Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. Located right in the iconic heart of L.A. with palm trees, warm sunlight, and rolling hills, we arrived at the hospital and were immediately met by the graceful staff.

We unpacked the boxes of gifts and games in the teen room where the walls were adorned with pictures of stars and celebrities of all sorts. You can see that, even in the midst of Hollywood’s glitz and glamour, that people still want to be able to help children who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

 

We also gave the patients the opportunity to learn, laugh, and socialize even more so by bringing new games and, like all hospitals on the trip, were able to give the hospital one year game passes for all gift bags and to share with future patients who own Xbox one Consoles. Special thank you goes out to Microsoft once again for helping us supply these.

We are now able to bring XBox Game Passes to all families and supply the joy of gaming for all people who need to take their mind off of situations that are beyond their control.

On Thursday’s stop, we were truly in our own backyard, within a few miles actually, at CHOC in Mission Viejo where we handed out toys to patients up and down the halls.

One thing to note about these particular stops is that we weren’t quite able to meet and greet with the patients too much due to flu season and the safety precautions that are being taken by the staff at each of the hospitals. This is completely understandable this time of year and it truly displays the caring and genuine thought behind the practices involved with all the child life staff hospital staff.

 

2018 has been off to a wonderful start and we’re looking forward to making stops across the country. We were so happy we were able to spread some joy the local hospitals that are right by us in Southern California.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for all news on the gamers give back tour.

Gamers Give Back 2018!!

We’ve been busy at the start of the new year scheduling out the 2018 Gamers Give Back Tour!

A lot goes into the details and planning of making these special days happen. That said, we are always more than happy to work out the details and bring a day to hospitals that patients and staff alike will remember!

This month, we made our initial stops of the new year in the Sunshine State!

 

We arrived at Baptist Children’s Hospital in Miami where we were met by Lori from Child Life and… BOOM! Just as quickly as 2017 ended, our 2018 Gamers Give Back tour was back in action!

We set off on our tasks of packing the gift bags for the children. We try our best to plan out beforehand but part of the nature of going to hospitals is also being ready when a surprise comes along. It’s here, while packing up bags, where we generally assess the number of gifts needed the day of (Sometimes it can be more. Sometimes it can be less) and bag up enough gifts to go around for each and every child we meet. Along with our friends from Child’s Play Charity, we brought Skylanders, children’s books, games and more!

 

As our own David Arditti put it – the response was appreciative and humbling. Lori and her Child Life team went from room to room and messages of gratitude were relayed to us while gifts were being delivered to the kids.

 

 

After the gifts were delivered, we hosted a delicious lunch for the staff from Roasters and Toasters. The meal was much appreciated by all the nurses, doctors and Child Life team members who were able to take a break and have a yummy bite to eat.

As per usual on the Gamers Give Back tour, as the meal wrapped up we had an engaged discussion surrounding potential options for gaming and fun for the kids including possibilities with Xbox Game Passes, VR options for playing and a possible set up in the future, a bit about GameChanger Play Days, and Incorporating the exciting new  Zott TV into their hospital!

After lunch and our meeting, we got a tour of the Miami Cancer Institute attached to the Children’s Hospital. We got the chance to tour an entertainment room that was designed by a former Disney Imagineer. One amazing innovation in healthcare to note,  the hospital has a Proton Accelerator that they just call “Proton” which is able to fire a proton particle at tumors, which move at 2/3 the speed of light, without damaging the surrounding tissue. Incredible!

Next up, we visited the patients and staff a Nemours Children’s Hospital.

We arrived at the hospital where we were greeted by Jenna from the Child Life team who showed us around the facilities and led us to the Teen Room where we started bagging gifts for various age groups. Unpredictability comes with the territory at times on the GGB Tour… Nemour’s had more teenage patients than initially anticipated but we made due with the gifts we had and gift bags were compiled as necessary. The patients received their gifts as planned and we were able to create a few impromptu bags for the newly added recipients!
 
Tijuana Flats was delivered for lunch which, the staff couldn’t stop raving about.  All in all, it was a good day with good folks!

Our final stop in Florida was at the Florida Hospital for Children. We came with our “Gamer Faces” on and  had a good day with our friends Child Life partners and our new acquaintances the 501st of Star Wars renown!

The kids were ecstatic to have their gifts delivered by Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and a squadron of Stormtroopers! The Child Life and Admin staff were a pleasure to work with and thrilled we could be there to bring some joy to the patients. During and after lunch, we discussed ways to help innovate and upgrade their current gaming capabilities so that kids could enjoy all the new wonder that video games have to offer.

 

At the end of this month (January) we’ll be in Utah and Colorado for more Gamers Give Back tour dates! Stay tuned! As always, be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on events, upcoming donation drives, and other wonderful ways to help us give to young patients who need some joy during what can usually be a tough experience for a child

 

Thanks for reading!

The Gamers Give Back Tour Fall 2017 Recap!

We wrap up our 2017 Gamers Give Back Tour with some special stops on both coasts of the country.

The busy season for the Gamers Give Back Tour is winding down for us at GameChanger Charity (although the work to keep things going never really stops!). We made quite a few stops, 40 to be exact, and are currently planning for a huge 2018!
 
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… let’s do a run down of our last five visits!

At the end of September, along with Child’s Play Charity, we made two stops on the East Coast. First up, we met with Child Life staff and handed out gifts to child patients at the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo in New York. The Minecraft plushes were a big hit and Hope The Monkey’s were aplenty and given to the younger patients right alongside our toys and books.

 

 

Thank you to the awesome team at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo for having us! Looking forward to seeing you all again!

Next up, we took a short jaunt over to the fine city of Brotherly Love.

While we didn’t get a flick of Hope The Monkey running the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art via Rocky we did get the chance to have a cheesesteak after our visit!

 

 

Of course, this was not our main intent while visiting Philadelphia…

We came fully prepared to meet and greet with the wonderful patients and Child Life staff at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. For this stop, along with meeting with the patients and bringing a catered lunch to the staff, we brought along a mobile gaming station with a PS4 set-up so the kids and staff could play some games and enjoy their day together.

 

 

A bit later in the month, we made our way out to Sacramento for a unique day where we made stops at two different hospitals.

 

 

 

It turns out that UC Davis Medical and Shriners Northern California are right across the street from each other. This allowed us to deliver gifts to the patients and treat the Child Life staff members to lunch and/or a snack at two facilities in one day!

 

 

We spent the first half of the day at UC Davis Medical. At this Children’s Hospital, as well as all the others, we always meet special children with eclectic little personalities. Below is a picture of one of the special patients who was extremely excited that she had just received a Littlest Pet Shop play set.

 

 

We enjoyed having lunch with the Child Life staff at UC Davis Medical where we were able to discuss options on how to improve their gaming set-ups! To note, we were able to send a few new controllers to the facility after we saw they needed them!

 

If you’ve ever experienced visiting a Shriners Hospital you know they are places that pay special attention to their child patients. The size of the recreational spaces and options for activities bring life to the floors and a positive vibrant energy fills the space that is simply impossible to ignore.

 

 

We met up with the Child Life staff at Shriners Northern California for a sit down conversation on all things gaming. Along with the Childs Play team, we will be working with Shriners to ensure that all of their gaming platforms are up to date and that the endless possibilities of the VR and AR space are available to them.

 

 

 

Next up, along with Childs Play, we headed up to into the great Pacific Northwest to meet with the Child Life staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital. It was here that we spent some time discussing all of the gaming options we could provide for their patients. The staff had a lot of questions about our program and we were happy to provide them with answers, and we were excited about possibilities in VR and AR!

 

 

At each and every one of the stops we make on the Gamers Give Back Tour, we are humbled by the genuine love and kindness the Child Life staff shows for the patients they care for.

While it must be incredibly emotional to be involved with children and their families going through their daily motions while facing life-threatening illnesses head on, the Child Life staff approach their jobs in a human way with the knowledge and diligence to do what is right for the kids and do so in a caring manner on a daily basis with grace and a smile on their face. Our whole team is constantly in awe of their strength and it only makes us even more committed to doing what we do as a charity.

To all of the Child Life staff we meet, a humble “thank you” for having us!

 

 

 

 

Gamers Give Back Across The U.S.A.

From the lush forests of New England to the rolling plains of the heartland, The Gamers Give Back Tour continues to make its way across the nation.

The final month of summer began with a stop in Burlington, Vermont at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital. On August 7, our very own Brandon Llinas joined forces with Erick Blandin, who is with us on many of the Gamers Give Back Tour stops, from Childs Play, and met up with Sierra Scheller, head of the Child Life team of specialists at the hospital.

Sierra showed our team around the facilities and helped put together a free forum style event where, rather than visit room-to-room, arranged it so gifts could be distributed in one location of the hospital. The patients, many of them older kids and teenagers at this particular stop, came to us where they received gifts along the lines of Monopoly board games and Skylander action figures accompanied by Hope stuffed animals and Childs Play blankets.

A couple days later on August 10th, Brandon continued on to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine where he met with Liz Shaughnessy, her team of Child Life Specialists, and a total amount of 55 kids.

The hospital was gorgeous and serves as a wonderful example of a facility that caters to the needs of their patients. The children were appreciative of the gifts they received which included toys from Hasbro, one of our amazing donors.

The team went room-to-room handing out toys, chatting with patients and families, and were welcomed by smiling faces as they handed out GGB Tour bags filled with fun items.

Later in the month, David Arditti, one our awesome GameChanger team members, traveled to Nebraska to make a couple special stops for the tour.

After David’s visit to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Rob Harding, Community Resource Specialist, sent us this heartfelt and genuine thank you letter:

“ I wanted to thank you effusively for Erick and David’s visit and for the lunch! What a tremendous gift you all provided for our patients and staff and we can’t thank you enough. I can only imagine the time, thought, energy and effort that goes into planning a visit like this – you all are a well-oiled machine. I’d also like to thank everyone for their overwhelming generosity in providing the bags of gifts for our patients, too! Wow!

Then, on August 24th, David Arditti, along with players from the Iowa Cubs, made a visit to Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

David sent this write-up back to GC Headquarters as a recap of his visit:

We met Lori in the lobby of Blank’s who showed us to the room and brought the gifts a little before 9.  We started the day collecting gift bags for the patients and were joined by the Cubs shortly after who helped put the bags together.  We all chatted with the Cubs team who were eager to help and enthusiastic about the cause.  Once we were all packed we went to the rooms.

The Cubs team members and the Child life staff distributed the bags to the patients, who were all very excited to be visited by the team and their mascot.  After that, the Cubs departed and we got a tour of the facility, their PICU and a couple playrooms.  Then we finished the day having lunch with the Child Life staff and chatting about their tech questions.

Shelby, the team representative for the Iowa Cubs, wrote a wonderful note to us about their experience:

“We have been fortunate to visit Blank Children’s, but never before today were we able to have our hearts touched by the passion that GameChanger and Childs Play shared with our players. Yes, we have passed our baseballs to the kids and walked the halls- but never have we seen kids faces light up when they received the gift bags that we felt so honored to deliver. Whether the patient identified with our baseball uniforms, the baseballs, or CUBBIE our mascot… we definitely hit a home run for the kids at Blank Children’s.”

 

Our mission continues! As summer time winds down and everyone goes back to school we’re working toward connecting with more companies who share our passion to bring innovative technology to hospitals worldwide. Learn more about how you can help GameChanger Charity by clicking here and following us on Twitter!

Bay Area Gamers Give Back Tour Recap

The Gamers Give Back Tour made a stop in the San Francisco Bay Area this past week at 3 hospitals – Stanford Children’s Hospital, UCSF Benioff Oakland and UCSF Benioff San Francisco.

Every time we make a stop, our team is impressed with the staff and inspired by the patients and their families who remind us why we’re continuing our mission to spread joy to children in hospitals everywhere. The stops we made in Northern California were certainly no exception.

The Child Life Specialists we met with were sharp, enthusiastic, and incredibly passionate about their work. We met Specialists who were new to their profession and others who have worked in their field for over 30 years! No matter their experience, each member of the staff we spoke with was supportive and excited about the GameChanger Mission.  

AR and VR technologies were and will continue to be a large element during our tour visits. Interest has peaked across the board for these exciting new technologies and how they can be utilized in healthcare based environments and, as always, we’re happy to show the staff and patients the ropes!

At each facility, we had the chance to show off the AR/VR platform inspired by JJ Buschard that left Specialists amused and curious about how hospitals can adapt these new breakthroughs. At all 3 locations, different discussions took place on how GameChanger could help to supply innovative tech-based healthcare solutions for children everywhere.

We took tours of each facility, had many opportunities to view current capabilities in place at the hospitals, and had the chance to discuss what team members were hoping to add to their patient’s experience. These discussions are incredibly valuable as they help us identify needs and allow us to supply expert advice on VR solutions, many of which are presently available.

We also had the honor of meeting with Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, a doctor from Stanford Children’s Hospital, who created a solution to entertain children with engaging content while they move from the comfort of their room to undergo a surgical procedure. Dr. Rodriguez has made tremendous headway collaborating with his hospital and came up with VR head straps based off the same straps being used for welding masks as they are easily kept sterile. This has now become one of the many efforts we will be supporting moving forward.

As always, being able to meet patients and staff face to face is invaluable. During our visit to the 3 hospitals in the Bay Area we donated 300+ gifts to patients (Including Skylanders, Children’s books, and stuffed animal Hope monkeys) and supplied catered lunches to around 400 caregivers.

We couldn’t be more grateful to meet all of the staff and patients during our visits. To us, these are the real heroes and should and the reason we keep pushing to help kids across the world.