Saturday, May 16, 2020

COVID-19 has changed many aspects of the way that people are able to interact with each other. It has especially changed how the Dance Marathon volunteers are able to interact with the kids that are currently fighting their battle right now on the 11th floor of Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Even though the Dance Marathon volunteers are unable to be there in person with the kids and their families, they are still able to support them from afar. Like many people, they are able to access Zoom and communicate with families. The hospital director and her chairs are busy coming up with new ideas that they can implement into their Zoom sessions. The virtual meetings allow for the hospital volunteers to stay connected and replace their in-person volunteering.

“During these times, we are available to play online games, watch movies or videos, listen to music, or even just chat,” said Courtney Becker, Hospital Liaison Director.

Although Stead Family Children’s Hospital has not had too many families in the hospital take advantage of this opportunity, they are excited that this virtual volunteering will be able to be offered throughout the summer to kiddos at Stead and to all 1,066 Dance Marathon families who may want to hang out with a Dance Marathon volunteer.

Dance Marathon members who are a part of the hospital committee during normal operational times can look forward to hour-and-a-half shifts throughout the day during the weekdays and also some shifts that are being added on the weekends. There are also opportunities for other Dance Marathon members to participate in volunteer hours through incentives offered throughout the school year. Time spent at the hospital with kids is some students’ favorite part of Dance Marathon. They are able to have the opportunity to interact with Dance Marathon families and see the resilience of their fight against cancer first-hand.

In addition to volunteer hours, the Dance Marathon hospital committee also organizes Playtimes, Hospital Parties, and Lime Times for kids at Stead Family Children’s Hospital. During Playtimes, the kids, their siblings, and whoever else may want to join are invited downstairs to a common area to make a craft with Dance Marathon members. Hospital Parties are similar to Playtimes, and Lime Times involve Dance Marathon volunteers being broadcasted to the whole hospital through the TV system- they write skits, play games on air, deliver prizes, and more. Because of COVID-19, these events have been replaced by a YouTube channel that families are able to access in the hospital or in their own homes. Members of the Hospital committee have created activities such as Mindful Minutes, Crafting with DM, and other videos that contain various activities including Dance Marathon members creating crafts to help keep kiddos entertained. We have attached the links below!

The hospital volunteers are staying very positive and optimistic during this time. They are constantly brainstorming new ideas so that they can stay in contact with the active families of Dance Marathon and are very thankful for the opportunities that they have already been provided to stay connected. “I think social isolation has made us all realize the importance of human connection, and we will continue to find ways to provide this until we can be back in the hospital again,” said Courtney Becker.

YouTube Channel:

By: Jadie Knobbe and Lilly Ries, Public Relations Committee, DM 27