Nintendo of America is manufacturing 1,250 new Fun Centers in their first run, and Starlight expects to have about 500 of them placed in hospitals by the end of the year. In a continuation of the organizations’ 16-year partnership, the portable Fun Centers with the new Wii technology will be enjoyed by thousands of hospitalized kids.
The new Fun Centers feature a Sharp AQUOS flat-screen television, a DVD player, a Wii system and a selection of family-friendly Wii games like Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports and Mario Party 8. The Fun Centers were created specifically to offer children an entertaining respite during difficult hospital stays.
To help mark the introduction of the new Fun Centers, two units, donated by Nintendo, will be presented to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles at a special Super Mario Galaxy-themed launch event on June 25. Child star Allen Alvarado, of Discovery Kids’ Flight 29 Down, and video game icon Mario will be in attendance. Allen has had personal experience with Fun Centers, which kept him company and aided in his recovery when he was hospitalized for several weeks at Childrens Hospital after an automobile accident last fall.
Previous versions of the Fun Center, most recently featuring GameCube systems, earned praise from families, doctors and hospital staffers alike for their ability to brighten moods, boost morale and reduce feelings of isolation among ailing children. Since the first model was created in 1992, more than 5,000 units have been distributed to over 1,000 hospitals across North America. The new Fun Center offers an enhanced entertainment experience by incorporating the Wii console’s distinctive motion-sensing controls and an array of popular games.
“We’re extremely proud to make Fun Centers a part of our collaboration with Starlight,” said Don James, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Operations. “The inclusive fun of Wii is especially valuable for families in need of a tension reliever while dealing with serious pediatric illness. We hope the new Fun Centers will give kids and their loved ones an opportunity to play, laugh and connect with each other amid trying circumstances.”
“Our patients at Childrens Hospital benefit greatly from the Fun Centers,” said Linda Garcia, Manager, Child Development Services, for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. “The Fun Centers serve as a diversional tool for Child Life Specialists to provide to patients and families in the playrooms, at bedside and throughout the hospital, including medical units, clinics and waiting rooms. The Fun Centers promote socialization, mastery and fun. Through this play, children learn about cooperation, positive thinking and problem-solving skills. The Fun Centers also provide opportunities for hand strengthening and finger dexterity, an important therapeutic value for our patients undergoing physical rehabilitation.”
“Everyone who has spent time in a hospital knows how scary and lonely it can be,” said Paula Van Ness, CEO of Starlight. “Our Fun Centers transform the hospital experience for children, bringing enjoyment and laughter to an otherwise daunting experience. And as an added benefit of this new Fun Center model, the Wii technology can be used to encourage children to do physical therapy and motor coordination exercises.”
People who want to help support the mission of Nintendo and Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation can visit Starlight’s Site of a Million Stars at www.millionstars.org. Click on Mario’s star to place a star in Nintendo of America’s Galaxy. Starlight’s goal is to unite 1 million caring people and organizations to bring seriously ill children and their families out of the dark. Placing a star in Nintendo of America’s Galaxy is free and includes space for a message about the nature of your support and a link to your favorite Web site. You can also choose to add special features to your star or upgrade to a constellation for a tax-deductible donation of $5 to $100.