Gamer by day, nurse by night. Justin Molina, RN, Inpatient 21, has two passions – video games and nursing. That’s why he rallied his online gaming community, family and friends to raise money for a Gamers Outreach Kart (GO Kart), a portable medical-grade video game kiosk.
Recently, Justin along with Lightstream, a Chicago-based startup dedicated to building live streaming creative tools and technology, and gamer and Lightstream’s Community Manager, Brandon Stennis, delivered three GO Karts to Lurie Children’s.
Justin said, “I’m so humbled to be able to merge my two passions today and give back to our patients. I see first-hand how powerful and positive gaming can be for a child in the hospital. It provides them with an outlet to express themselves, connect with others and work through an often overwhelming experience.”
Each GO Kart is equipped with a gaming console, monitor and an assortment of games. The Gamers Outreach Karts help in the healing process. “Patients who have the opportunity to play video games in the hospital are provided with time to feel like a normal kid engaging in a normal activity. Video games help a child cope with hospitalization and specific video games can provide a supportive outlet for expressing emotions as well as help with pain management,” said Sara Stewart, MS, CCLS, Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Certified Child Life Specialist, Inpatient Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplant.
The GO Karts helped fourteen-year-old Truman cope with his recent hospitalization over his birthday. His mom Tinessa said, “Truman was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), an autoimmune disease that causes a skin rash and muscle inflammation. Since he needs to avoid the sun, video gaming is the perfect prescription for him.” She continues, “Lurie Children’s nurses like Justin have provided Truman with the best possible experience while being hospitalized. Justin really connected with Truman through video gaming and that overall helped Truman feel more comfortable.”
“It’s very powerful to witness the Gamers Outreach community come together to provide these GO Karts to Lurie Children’s. The Gamers Outreach Karts support kids and teens throughout their hospitalization and equip nurses and child life specialists with the means to make activities and technology accessible,” said Ian Carr, Director of Marketing for Gamers Outreach.
Lurie Children’s currently has more than 10 GO Karts throughout the hospital. The gaming kiosks are managed by the Child Life team. The hospital also participates in Gamers Outreach’s Player 2 initiative that pairs video game enthusiasts with volunteer positions at Lurie Children’s.