Who's Your Hero?
"Life looks more beautiful...because of you."
For most people, the thought of staying in the hospital isn’t a happy one. It can be scary, no matter your age. Now…imagine if you’re a child. Or the parent of a child who’s sick or injured. Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Hospital (DCH) in Tucson, Arizona, understands this. It’s working to turn that concern – into comfort.
DCH offers support through a healing services organization called Integrative Touch for Kids (ITK). ITK helps address the trauma and stress related to hospital stays through healing therapies like massage, meditation, play and music.
And it’s all done free of charge.
These therapies are possible because of ITK’s volunteer program, Hospital Heroes. In this program, Adult Hero volunteers skilled in comfort therapies, support families in crisis. Hero services range from gentle massage, to counseling and moral support. The hospital also welcomes Young Hero volunteers through its doors. The Young Heroes, ages 14-21 are trained in caregiving. They spend time with patients - chatting, playing games and participating in activities.
"Children can feel isolated while in the hospital," said ITK Executive Director, Shay Beider. "Our goal with both Hero programs is to help break down those barriers while helping kids and their families feel comfortable, accepted and safe. This allows patients to experience an emotional escape from the hospital atmosphere."
Play therapy happens weekly in patient rooms or a community space at the hospital. Patient family members can also receive healing therapy in the form of meditation or counseling from ITK Hero therapists.
“All Hero volunteers must complete an orientation to learn techniques for interacting with young patients,” Shay explained. “They also learn person-first language. This is a respectful way to communicate with children who have special needs."
The Heroes program also enhances patient care by promoting emotional well-being, reducing stress, and providing support for families. The DCH staff says it’s an incredible opportunity for volunteers to engage in meaningful service. "I’m so proud of our Hero volunteers,” said Shay. “It's amazing to see their dedication to lifting the spirits of kids. Truly powerful!"
To learn more about ITK, check out the video, A Healing Touch.
“We are so incredibly grateful for the gifts of ITK. Thank you for everything you have given our family. We will never be the same and life looks more beautiful because of you.” – Mother of a teenage patient.
Integrative Touch for Kids (ITK) is dedicated to providing healing touch services to patients and families at DCH. The non-profit organization is funded through grants and donations. The State Farm Youth Advisory Board has provided two consecutive grants in support of the Hospital Heroes and the annual Healing Retreat programs.