“Cool” Starlight Gowns Change the Game for Kids at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital

“Coming in for surgery, whether it’s your first or tenth surgery, you’re scared. These Starlight Gowns are what make it better.”

Kelsey Davis is a Certified Child Life Specialist in the Pediatric Pre-op department at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital. She visits with kids before surgery to educate and relieve anxiety and stress.

One of the ways she does that is by offering her young patients a Starlight Gown.

Eight-year-old Cayden didn’t hesitate before choosing the R2-D2 gown. “His eyes lit up when he saw it,” says his mom.

The pre-op department received hundreds of Star Wars Starlight Gowns thanks to Star Wars: Force for Change, the charitable initiative from Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company that harnesses the power of Star Wars to empower and improve the lives of children around the world. These fun and comfortable gowns help transform the patients into characters like R2-D2, Chewbacca and Darth Vader. They’re extra soft and tie on the side – instead of down the back – for more privacy, and they have snaps on the shoulders for easier access to chest ports and IV’s. 

Kids Feel More Comfortable in a Starlight Gown

All children are required to change into a hospital gown before going into the operating room. When it’s time for them to change out of their clothes, Kelsey gives them a choice between a normal hospital gown or a Starlight Gown.

“When kids get to pick a fun Starlight Gown, they regain a sense of control,” Kelsey said. “The Starlight Gowns turn something that is typically a battle to get them to do, into something fun.”

Kelsey says some kids don’t even want to get out of their beds because they feel too exposed in a typical hospital gown. With Starlight Gowns, she’s noticed that kids feel more comfortable to walk around, and they get to take them home as a souvenir.  

Starlight Gowns Change Whole Experience

Child Life Specialist Kelsey Davis engages in medical play with four-year-old Finn as he stays comfy in his R2-D2 Starlight Gown.

Even the radiology department has started to hand out Starlight Gowns to their patients. Starlight Gowns have plastic snaps on the sleeves, which makes them safe to wear during an X-ray, and Kelsey says they help make getting MRI or CT scans – which can be really scary for kids – a bit more comfortable.  

“When kids receive a cool hospital gown, it changes their whole experience,” Kelsey explained. “I’ve seen parents moved to tears when I hand their child a Starlight Gown and they smile. They didn’t expect their child to smile at all during the hospital visit.”


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Tara Millspaugh

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