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Every kid deserves to have fun on Halloween. But for the ones in the hospital, who can't roam the streets, it takes some extra effort to bring the spooky fun indoors.
So hospitals pull out all the stops, from costumes for NICU babies to trick-or-treating and big celebrations. Here's how they make the day special for the kids in their care.
In the NICU at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) the nurses make sure to keep the holiday light and fun with a costume party. They even provide costumes to some patients — so they never have to feel left out. Rachel Puklin, a child life specialist at CHOP, explained that parents want their children to be able experience their first Halloween with as much normalcy as possible, which includes the opportunity to snap a photo of their babies in their first costumes.
“There are so many ups and downs with having a baby in the hospital,” said Puklin. “We wanted to be able to offer the opportunity for families to dress up their babies and have their first Halloween pictures.”
At Sick Kids in Toronto, the hospital hosts a big costume party for the older kids. Isabella Lamanna, who is 14 years old, had a blast — and even made a few friends.
“It kind of took our mind off of the pain,” said Lamanna, who was recovering from spinal fusion surgery. “It made us forget about why we were really there.”
Lamanna’s mother, Gina Markham, said the Halloween party boosted her spirits, too.
“Before Isabella was admitted I never really realized what these families go through,” said Markham. “Seeing your child in an atmosphere where they’re there for critical, life-threatening surgeries, but then you see the smile on their face during these events… it’s heartwarming.”
At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta the community pitches in, helping the hospital bring kids’ dreams to life with a specially designated Cape Day in October. That's when hospital staff — and members of the community — are encouraged to wear their own capes in support of these brave superhero kids.
This year, the staff helped 5-year-old Sydney “skydive” at iFly, an indoor skydiving center. They also arranged for 11-year old Kaleb to act as the “honorary captain” at the Atlanta Falcons’ game against the Miami Dolphins. The hospital makes these kids front-and-center — so they can remember that their illnesses don’t define them.
“These special moments are so important to capture for these families,” said Puklin. “Families have expressed being thankful to be able to participate in something that is normal when the rest of their days are filled with moments that may be not so normal because they’re in the hospital.”