A new prescription for health at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital
New game center offers young patients fun and fitness as they recover
Maral Abkarian/Special to The Gazette
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A new video game system is giving young patients at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital more motivation to get out of bed and get well.
Starlight Children's Foundation MidAtlantic earlier this month donated the Wii Fun Center to the Rockville hospital's pediatrics department on behalf of Miss Teen Maryland International 2008 Brittany Sullivan.
The mobile entertainment unit contains a flat-screen television, DVD player and Nintendo Wii system with 22 programmed games.
Sullivan said Wednesday morning during a dedication ceremony that she wanted to give patients a fun distraction while they stay in the hospital.
She donated the popular interactive video system in memory of her grandfather, John Sullivan.
"He died about a year ago of cancer and when I went into the hospital to visit him the last time that I saw him, I realized it's a very dreary place and I can't imagine children that are in the hospital having to deal with something like this," Sullivan said.
She said she could never have raised the money for the equipment without the help of many supporters.
The junior at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney said the entertainment center cost $4,300 and was purchased through Starlight MidAtlantic, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that helps seriously ill children and their families cope with hospital stays through entertainment, education and family activities.
Sullivan raised the money to buy the system through donations from the Potomac Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Rockville, Rockville Lions Club, Damascus Y-Women and Good Counsel. She said a casual-dress day at Good Counsel, when students paid to wear something other than their uniforms, raised about $2,300.
Peggy Brooke, child life specialist for Shady Grove, said the Wii system, which allows players to translate their physical movements through a gaming controller and other attachments, provides more than just entertainment.
"Due to the interactive nature of the Wii, we are already seeing direct benefits for some of our pediatric patients who are diabetic or are recovering from surgery," she said.
Jack Strodel, a 10-year-old patient at the hospital, sat in front of the fun center Wednesday morning and played Mario Kart Wii, a racing game. He said his family has the video game system at its Gaithersburg home.
"This is very fun," the fourth-grader at Rachel Carson Elementary School in Gaithersburg said. "It's good for when you're not feeling well and you're down. As soon as you start playing it entertains you and cheers you up."
The young patient, who had been admitted to the hospital Saturday with pneumonia, was scheduled to go home Wednesday afternoon.
Sullivan, who wore her crown and sash to the dedication ceremony, watched as Strodel played the game.
"It's really such an accomplishment for me because now I finally get to see all of my work come to life," the 16-year-old Gaithersburg resident said.
Sullivan has worked with Starlight MidAtlantic for two years. She said the organization is close to her heart because her mother, Susan Sullivan, who suffers from Crohn's disease, has shown her how serious and painful a chronic illness can be.
Sullivan said she has already raised $600 towards buying another fun center and hopes to donate it to another county hospital.