For some kids (and adults), an Xbox is more than just a fun gaming system; it brings joy and entertainment when it’s needed most. That’s the case for Dawn and her kids, who have spent months in the hospital and now reside at The Children’s Home & Lemieux Family Center. Dawn’s baby, Golden, was born premature. He still needs time to grow and heal.
“Mommy, look how many points I got!” Emerald, Dawn’s daughter, says. She’s playing “Paw Patrol” on a brand-new Xbox One, donated courtesy of Make Room for Kids (MR4K), an extension of the Mario Lemieux Foundation’s Austin’s Playroom initiative. Make Room for Kids is one of many ways the Mario Lemieux Foundation works with The Children’s Home and other hospitals. Created ten years ago by Pittsburgh-based blogger, Virginia Montanez, MR4K brings gaming to sick kids in hospitals. Now operating as part of the Mario Lemieux Foundation, with support from Pittsburgh’s local Microsoft office, MR4K has served hundreds of children and families throughout Pittsburgh with over 400 Xbox consoles.
Emerald learns how to play the game almost instantly. Dawn praises and challenges her further: “Look how smart you are! Tell me the number of points it says on the screen. What are those numbers?”
Like many features of the Pediatric Specialty Hospital, the Xbox makes things feel a bit more like home. And that fits a larger model, designed just for families like Dawns’: “At The Children’s Home, I can be here with my baby whenever I want. I can have my other kids here, making sure they’re eating properly, because there’s a kitchen to cook and different things to entertain them. With three other children at home, I’ve been trying to run my own business while my husband works crazy hours for the Port Authority. Things have definitely gotten easier since coming to The Children’s Home,” Dawn says.
With private rooms, kitchens, amenities, and more in the Lemieux Family Center, the Pediatric Specialty Hospital has a homelike feel. This design helps families feel comfortable and supported, better able to learn their child’s care during their stay, which ensures a safe transition from hospital to home.
“I have so much flexibility at The Children’s Home. It is important that I can be with my baby. There’s no noisy alarms and beeping. I’m able to hold him whenever I want. And, The Children’s Home helps to accommodate my other kids,” Dawn says.
While Dawn and her family will have to wait a bit longer before they can return home with baby Golden, it’s the little things that make life easier, like playing a few games while mom nurses your new baby brother.