I stepped into Riley Hospital Tuesday afternoon and immediately caught sight of what is probably their most iconic symbol: A red wagon rolling by me; a mom attached to the handle and a little girl gleefully peering out from the back. They knew where they were headed, but I didn’t so I studied the directional signs as they scooted around me. “Mom, can we play when we get home?”
A very fitting question given my assignment for the day: I had arrived at Riley to peek at their first high-tech playroom debuting on Floor 7 West.
March marks Child Life Month – a month dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the professionals who care and are committed to their young patients. And many of these wonderful ‘child life professionals’ bedecked in their Riley gear flocked the room when I arrived. A ribbon cutting was soon to take place and I had to get myself up to speed quickly on the new room of 7 West.
The decor is bright, vibrant and themed in a rainforest look and feel, which fits its name well: The TCC Rainforest Activity Center is an area solely dedicated to ‘therapeutic play’ for patients and families of Riley. It includes tablets, a projection screen perfect for movie nights on the wing, and a touchscreen play table that will make its way there in the coming weeks. “Anytime you can carve out some normalcy and fun for Riley kids is important. It helps give new hope and meaning for them,” said Riley Children’s Foundation Chief Marketing and Corporate Partnerships Officer Jim Austin.
But all of this would not have been possible without TCC – the largest Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer in the US – whose name quietly appears on the project as well. TCC representatives were onsite for the ribbon cutting, humbly remarking not at the importance of this project for their organization, but the children it serves.
“My sister was a Riley kid,” TCC Director of Community and Employee Engagement Ryan McCarty spoke. “And once a Riley kid, always a Riley kid, so this holds a very special place in my heart… It’s about the culture of good: What can we do to make the world a better place? And when you see a need, you meet it. Here it was about helping kids simply be kids. There’s a legacy here for children.”
After the ribbon cutting I pulled Ryan aside for a quick moment and he shared TCC’s hope – no, challenge really – that other companies step up to create a special, playful space on one of the remaining 12 play areas at Riley Hospital. “Bring in some color, do something – stretch the limits. This is what the culture of good means. And every bit counts.”
Yes, it does Ryan. And this is just one small step.
Jeanine Bobenmoyer is an explorer by heart. Her enthusiasm for trying new things drives her family out into the Indianapolis community as often as possible. Her son Hunter may become the next Bo Jackson and daughter Emerson is headed for Broadway or Harvard. Or both.
When Jeanine is not checking out the latest hotspot, she puts on her hat as the Chief Mom Officer for theCityMoms, the largest support and social network for moms in Indianapolis. She guest writes for Hamilton County Tourism, Inc., loves yoga, University of Michigan football, and trail running. She’d also drop everything if Eddie Vedder asked her to join Pearl Jam on tour. Find Jeanine on Twitter and Instagram.
Photo credits: Used with thanks to Dittoe Public Relations.