Encouraging video game play as a way to provide healthy distractions and positive interactions? That’s radical, and it’s happening at hospitals and (soon) domestic violence shelters worldwide.
As a (relative) newcomer to Seattle, I’m enjoying learning about the diverse organizations and causes with roots in the Pacific Northwest. Each month, I will highlight a local group whose radical work inspires me to be more radical in my own work and daily life.
Penny Arcade authors Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins founded Child’s Play in 2003 with a mission to provide age-appropriate entertainment to children during stressful events in their life as a healthy distraction, and to encourage positive interaction with their peers, friends, and family. It started with a single hospital in Seattle, WA. Since then, the charity has raised millions of dollars and has established partnerships with hospitals and other facilities worldwide to provide video games, toys, and books to children in need.
Currently, Child’s Play works with hospitals and care centers, including therapeutic facilities. In 2013, Krahulik and Holkins announced a new initiative to expand to domestic violence shelters. Applications are now being accepted.
With the help of participating hospitals, wish lists are set up that include games, books, toys, and other fun items. You can then click any location on their donation map to view the hospital’s list and purchase items to be sent directly to the hospitals. The items are generally shared in the hospital in community spaces or in a library checkout system.
If you’re interested in helping but don’t want to purchase a specific item, you can donate money directly, run a fundraiser event, or, for businesses, sign up for a corporate sponsorship. Cash donations are used to purchase additional play equipment for hospitals, including consoles and accessories, as well as toys and books, which often are given as gifts for birthdays and other occasions and therefore must be replaced frequently.
Child’s Play has found a unique way to use video games for good, creating an age-appropriate safe space for children to forget their worries for a few moments, relieve some stress, and perhaps make new friends in their hospital in the process. I was lucky to not spend prolonged periods at the hospital as a child, but having spent time as an adult as both a patient and a friend, I see the value and importance of programs such as this. I look forward to seeing their new domestic violence center initiative expand and succeed.
Learn about other radical local organizations we’ve featured, including Project Violet, Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, Seal Sitters, Undriving, Blue Earth Alliance, and Comedy Competition for a Cause.