WiiSTRONG Program - UCSF

New Wii Program from kidsSTRONG puts Fun and Games Back into the Lives of Kids with Cancer
University of California San Francisco Children's Hospital is first hospital in the nation to pilot new WiiSTRONG Program
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Los Altos, Calif., June 29, 2009  – When kids enter the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Children's Hospital cancer care center for treatment, they'll find their rooms outfitted with special Wii game systems that will help make their stays more fun and less scary. 

The Wii kits being installed in 25 rooms at UCSF are part of an innovative program from kidsSTRONG, a non-profit focused on helping kids and their families touched by cancer.  The goal of the program is to entertain kids and their families dealing with cancer – to ease their long hours of isolation with fun and physical activity. 

The kidsSTRONG kits, using Nintendo Wii systems and thousands of games donated by Electronic Arts, Lucas Arts and Nintendo, have been adapted for use by children in the hospital. They become part of each child's therapy, and quality of life surveys track their progress. UCSF is the first children's hospital in the U.S. to pilot the program.

Doctors say the program shows promise.

“We treat more than 700 children with cancer and conduct more than 10,000 pediatric oncology visits a year at UCSF,” said Christopher Dvorak, MD, of Pediatric Oncology at UCSF. “Keys to improved recovery include fun and uplifting experiences that increase physical activity and social interaction. It's a huge challenge to provide experiences that are fun and also provide physical activity for children living in hospital rooms for long periods of time. We're very excited about the kidsSTRONG program.

John Hernandez’s son, Zachary, is undergoing cancer treatment.

“This program lets Zach be a kid first and a patient second,” John Hernandez said. “It helps take his mind off his treatment, especially when we can't be there.  He loves getting to play the latest electronic games and interacting with other kids, and we love playing with him as well. I think it's going to have a huge impact on his recovery. It's changing his whole hospital experience.”

“The WiiSTRONG program is a component of kidsSTRONG's larger mission: to re-define the childhood cancer experience for families. Childhood cancer touches all family members – not only the child,” said Christine Falsetti, who created kidsSTRONG in 2008 after her son died from the disease. “We want to strengthen the parent-child relationship by creating a supportive, even life-affirming hospital experience. The WiiSTRONG program being piloted by UCSF is a first big step in demonstrating that everyday is about being kid first, patient second.”

Staying Strong with Cancer

The kidsSTRONG Wii kits are permanently installed in the UCSF patient rooms. Kids undergoing treatment get to choose from 20 interactive games, such as  Lego Star Wars,  Bloom Box,  My Sims and Wii Sports from LucasArts, ElectronicArts and Nintendo.  As the program evolves, UCSF plans to put the systems on a network so kids can play with other kids in the hospital as well.

kidsSTRONG plans to provide the Wii kits in children's cancer hospitals across the U.S. “The need is great,” said Falsetti.  “We've received a very positive response from children's hospitals in  the Bay Area and across the U.S. who want to launch similar programs for their patients.”

About UCSF Children's Hospital

One of the nation's top children's hospitals, UCSF Children's Hospital creates an environment where children and their families find compassionate care at the healing edge of scientific discovery, with more than 150 experts in 50 medical specialties serving patients throughout Northern California and beyond. The hospital admits about 5,000 children each year, including 2,000 babies born in the hospital. For more information, visit http://www.ucsfhealth.org/

About kidsSTRONG

kidsSTRONG (kidsSTRONG.org) is a nonprofit public benefit charity dedicated to improving the lives of children touched by cancer and their families, by enhancing their emotional, social and medical well being through direct assistance, awareness, and research. As the needs of children touched by cancer grow, so does our determination to help those who live daily with the uncertainty of cancer. Our programs are an essential complement to medical care, providing access to cancer care support and innovative research. Our goal is to ease the burden of childhood cancer today and to help find a cure for tomorrow. 

To donate or play a role in kidsSTRONG and make a difference in the lives of families touched by childhood cancer, please visit www.kidsSTRONG.org or on Facebook: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/169130?m=4654aa74

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