Bringing the life-enriching magic of games to hospitalized youth

Game to Grow has been using games like Dungeons and Dragons and Minecraft to help individuals build social confidence, form friendships, and find meaningful community for years. Our flagship social groups have expanded virtually in the past few years to reach individuals around the world, and a recent grant from Child’s Play Charity allowed us to reach youth in Washington’s foster care system.

Our most recent expansion of our game-based social enrichment program has been the implementation of Critical Core with hospitalized youth.

It goes without saying that hospital stays can be scary for youth and incredibly challenging for families. To add to the challenge, the emergence and impact of COVID-19 has meant that many youth in extended hospital care are no longer able to have much social contact. In previous years they would be able to have visitors or participate in group activities with other youth, but are now restricted to a limited set of visitors and no in-person group activities. There are great programs that bring video games and other technology to youth to help them alleviate the stress of their medical care, but many youth continue to struggle with loneliness and isolation.

To bring some much-needed social play to hospitalized youth, Game to Grow has been piloting a program with the Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. A duo of game facilitators from Game to Grow teleconference in to run 90-minute Critical Core games. In that hour and a half, the game masters introduce the game, teach the game, play the game, and debrief the game. During play, children are able to laugh, socialize, and join other children in imaginative play.

When the session ends, we ask families to provide some feedback on their experience.

Sometimes players are eager to share their own experiences as well. This player played Zara the Elf who helped the Great Garganoff recover a cursed magic spoon that was bringing food to life!


What’s next for Game to Grow’s hospital program?

We have a fantastic proof of concept. So far, the game masters implementing this program have been myself (Adam Davis) and Adam Johns, Game to Grow’s founders and Executive Directors. In future months, we’ll train new game masters in order to expand the program. Eventually, we see this option being available to hospitals around the country and around the world.

If you’d like to stay up to date on this initiative, please make sure to join our newsletter. If you’d like to help make sure this program comes to fruition, please consider making a donation to our mission!

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