Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Photos from DreamNight for publishing may be found at the following
http://www.hasbrochildrenshospital.org/oth/Page.asp?PageID=OTH132677 (photo credit: Pamela Bahtia and Al Weems Photography)
On Friday, June 1, Roger Williams Park Zoo, in partnership with Hasbro Children’s Hospital, hosted the eighth annual “DreamNight at the Zoo” for children with special health care needs within the Children’s Neurodevelopment Center (CNDC) at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. More than 1,450 children and families attended the event and enjoyed a unique and memorable Zoo experience that was tailored just for them.
DreamNight is an exclusive evening at the Zoo where children with special health care needs, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and developmental conditions, can enjoy the full zoo experience, along with their families, free of charge and without concern for social stigma, accessibility or cost.
“Children who have special health care needs are in need of constant care and attention. They often cannot participate in the same activities as their peers and, unfortunately, feel like outsiders when it comes to playtime,” said Maura Taylor, program administrator for the Children’s Neurodevelopment Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “The Zoo has recognized this, and has partnered with the CNDC to provide this special night. We are so appreciative of the Zoo’s commitment to this event, so our patients and families can simply relax and have fun.”
All exhibits remained open after-hours and special activities and presentations were planned to give the children a unique and memorable experience, including: animal interviews, zookeeper talks, animal enrichment demonstrations, face painting, live music, appearances by the Providence Fire Department and Providence Police Mounted Command, a buffet dinner and more.
All admission, operating costs, and entertainment were donated by the Rhode Island Hospital Guild, Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Rhode Island Zoological Society, Hasbro Children’s Hospital and other partner organizations.
Zoo employees and volunteers all offered their time to staff the event, as well as nurses, doctors and therapists from Hasbro Children’s Hospital where the children receive their care. Several volunteers from Lifespan’s employee mentorship program and the Rhode Island Hospital Guild also volunteered their time at the event as part of their goal of giving back to the hospital and the children and families it serves. One volunteer, Lynn Sweeney, M.D, an emergency medicine physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, shared her experience:
“We enjoyed an absolutely splendid night at the zoo, with treats at every turn. The most rewarding moments came later that evening when my daughter, who joined me that evening, was explaining to my mom what it means to be born with a disability and how this special night was set up so these kids could enjoy the zoo without lots of crowds, as she described every detail. It was terrific…a very impressive event that makes me even more proud than I already am to be a part of our organization.”
Since 1994, DreamNight has been held on the first Friday in June at zoos around the world. This past Friday, more than 170 zoos around the world celebrated DreamNight 2012. Roger Williams Park Zoo was among the first zoos in the U.S. to celebrate DreamNight in 2004.
Roger Williams Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the nation, is Rhode Island’s number one outdoor family and tourist attraction, and is also a leader in conservation efforts undertaken by a zoo of its size. The Zoo has received numerous awards for environmental education, and conservation work done locally and around the world, caring for species that without human intervention would face certain extinction. Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.
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