We all know Play-Doh has the potential to be whatever our imagination can conjure up.
For the kiddos at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, though, it goes far beyond blue pizza or pink animals. It goes far beyond play time.
Yes, Play-Doh is fun and fuels creativity. Beyond that, it helps kiddos cope with pain during medical procedures. It helps develop and strengthen motor function, serves as a stress reliever, and offers a form of emotional expression that is vital to recovery.
According to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Child Life manager Katie Caskey, it brings a sense of normalcy to children’s lives that is an overarching goal of everyone at the hospital.
“To give them the opportunity to play and grow as they would if they got to be at home,” is a common theme displayed by the entire staff and supported heavily by the community, Caskey said.
Some of that support arrived July 31, in the form of 13,107 tubs of Play-Doh. Speedway staff delivered the dough for kiddos to mold and mush into countless creations.
In partnership with Children’s Miracle Network, Speedway helps lead the way in raising money for local children’s hospitals. This year, company leaders wanted to go beyond raising money. They issued a challenge to employees and community members to donate Play-Doh as part of their usual charitable giving.
It was easy to rise to the challenge since many of the Speedway employees and community members have kids of their own and family members who’ve benefited from care at the children’s hospital, according to Spectrum Health Foundation senior specialist Devin Pierson.
So much so, that one of the Speedway locations ran out of room in their collection bin on the first day.
“All ages love” Play-Doh, Caskey said.
This is evident in the fact that within an hour of its delivery to the hospital, Child Life staff—joined by a few children—had already dug out the dough.
The dough flooded the arts and crafts table in the hospital’s playroom, where 10-year-old Savanna Rodriquez exhibited high levels of creative output and a bit of light-hearted sass.
“We have to be different,” Savanna said to her tablemates when explaining her rationale behind serving blue ice cream with a green fork rather than a spoon.
This also explains the interesting topping choices for her blue pizzas—broccoli, shrimp and carrots. In reality, broccoli is not her favorite topping. Green peppers reign supreme in her world. “(Pineapple’s) OK, too,” Savanna said.
All the children at the hospital received their own personal tub of Play-Doh, giving them the opportunity to play along with Child Life team members Jeremy Bergman and Rhys VanDemark through an interactive TV show broadcast to each child’s room.
Kiddos called in to make suggestions for Play-Doh creations and shared what they were whipping up.