How Does Starlight Impact a Child’s Mental Health and Wellbeing?

Happy kids heal faster. For pediatric patients, emotional and mental wellbeing are crucial because of how they support kids’ physical health and recovery.  

Hospital stays can be extremely hard on a child’s mental health and wellness. Kids can feel everything from fear of pokes and pains to loneliness from isolation from family and friends. These emotions, mixed with the challenges of hospitalization, make it more difficult for kids to persist and stay resilient. 

1) Creates connections and relationships

Kids create a sense of community when they can leave their hospital room and interact with peers and hospital staff, like when they ride in the Starlight Hero Wagons. 

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“The Radio Flyer Wagon was a significant factor in Karter’s long hospital stays. He was so young and unable to communicate well, on top of having major speech delays, the one thing he could always say was “Red Go!” And that meant he wanted to take a lap in the wagon through the oncology floor. It was instrumental to his experience, and it always gave him something to look forward to no matter how weak he was during his chemo treatments. He even at one point convinced one of his favorite male nurses, Steve, to take a ride with him!” - Krista, Karter’s Mom

2) Redirects focus from pain to fun 

When children focus on fun and engaging video games such as those on the Starlight Nintendo Switch Gaming Station, they find relief and distraction from pain.  

“The Starlight Gaming Stations are an incredible and unique tool that helps turn a sick or injured child’s pain, fear and stress into smiles and laughter..” – Dr. Anthony Scaduto, Orthopedic Institute for Children.

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Being transported to the beach, underneath radiant sunshine, when they use the Starlight Virtual Reality headset, helps kids relax and distract from pain.  

“She was not nearly as anxious as she typically is, evidenced by the talking and even laughing that we rarely hear. PT has been working really hard to be able to even get Peyton up into a chair, but when they do, she 15 minutes is about her max. This evening we gave her the VR headset and got her to sit there for an hour! We were able to use it to distract her while we were doing a rather painful dressing change and then avoided any pain medication!” - Peyton’s mom

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3) Comforts with familiarity 

The hospital can be an unfamiliar and scary place for a child. But kids can find peace and comfort when they wear a colorful Starlight Hospital Gown with familiar and beloved characters.  

Luca, who loves to play Mario Kart on his Nintendo Switch Gaming Station at home, found comfort in his Mario Starlight Gown. His mom explains: 

“Luca's favorite gown is the Mario one. He likes to joke with the staff by saying "It's me Mario".  It provides a lot of taking points with staff, as does his blue gown with various Nintendo characters. The gowns really help him with feeling comfortable. They are so soft, feature some of his favourite characters and fully close, unlike regular hospital gowns. They are also really handy and popular with the nurses because they fully open at the sleeves which helps with wires and changes when he is lying down and not comfortable moving around.” - Sarah, Luca’s mom. 

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Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Starlight can provide our programs to hospitals free-of-cost across the country to support a child’s mental wellbeing during their hospital stay.  

But there are still children that need access to these services to improve their mental health and wellbeing. There are over 5 million children who are hospitalized, and they need your help to feel better and heal faster. 

Help seriously ill kids build relationships, relax and have fun, and find comfort by donating to a Starlight program. 

Give comfort, community, and fun to a seriously ill kid today
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