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Institutional Advancement & Philanthropy

Child Life Fund

We are seeking to raise $250,000 to allow the Child Life Program to reach more young patients and their families. Our greatest need is to provide services on weekends, because a child's need to play doesn't end on Friday afternoons. We would also like to help families in distress who come to University Hospital's pediatric emergency room, as well as children who receive care in the hospital's outpatient clinics.

The Healing Power of Play

— One mother of a four-year old who has cancer:
"I can't imagine a hospital stay without the Child Life Program. The only way we can get my son to go to the hospital in the morning is to remind him that he can go to the playroom. After he plays, he's so happy."

child and attendant in the playroom

Play with a Purpose

A trip to the hospital can be a stressful experience, especially for chronically ill children. But at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, they find that play is just what the doctor ordered.

For 30 years, the Child Life Program at SUNY Downstate Medical Center has been helping children overcome their fears through therapeutic play activities. Founded by Ruth Plimpton, while her husband Calvin Plimpton, MD, was president of Downstate, it was one of the first hospital-based pediatric programs to promote healing through play. The Child Life Program provides a child-centered environment, where youngsters can recover, physically and emotionally. By emphasizing the normal aspects of childhood, it encourages them to move on more quickly with their lives.

photo of a childs green toy star

The Playroom is the core of the Child Life Center. Designed for children of all ages, it is divided into special areas: a secure space for infants and toddlers; a housekeeping and dress-up area for older youngsters; a place for those who like quiet play; and a central activity area. Since medical procedures are never performed here, the Playroom is a safe haven, where children and their parents can relax in a stress-free environment.

Because separation from family and friends is hard for youngsters who are frequently hospitalized, the Playroom is the place for family celebrations and seasonal fun–for pizza and ice cream parties, and for storytelling and visits from Santa. Strolling musicians visit often and Blinky the Clown comes every week to perform her magic tricks.

The Child Life Program:

Children who are hospitalized need relief from the pain and fear of illness and the sadness of separation from family and friends. They find it through the Child Life Program. I am privileged to serve on its Advisory Board and ask you to join me in supporting this vital program.

— Angela A. Bennett, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Child Life Program Advisory Board

The Angela Bennett Library, located across the hall from the Playroom, has a large and varied selection of children's books. It also houses three computers and a video play station, making it a favorite place for children age five and older.

Our certified Child Life Specialists have backgrounds in art therapy, early childhood education, and nursing. They supervise children in the Playroom and Library and also design activities for children who are too ill to leave their hospital room. Child Life Specialists serve as patient advocates when family members are absent and help youngsters prepare for medical procedures and tests. Working closely with each child's medical team, they encourage youngsters to become partners in their own recovery.


Please consider an online gift to the Child Life Fund or visit our Ways to Give page for information on other ways to donate.


For Clinical or Program Information Contact:
Child Life Fund
SUNY DOWNSTATE MEDICAL CENTER
450 Clarkson Avenue, Box 49
Brooklyn, NY 11203
phone: (718) 270-1636

For Information about Donating Contact:
Institutional Advancement & Philanthropy
SUNY DOWNSTATE MEDICAL CENTER
450 Clarkson Avenue, Box 93
Brooklyn, NY 11203
phone: (718) 270-8850