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Imagine you’re six years old, being brought to the emergency room of a children’s hospital. You are scared. You know your parents are frightened, too. There are a lot of doctors and nurses there. You just want to go home. You want to be anywhere but here.
But out of the corner of your eye, you spot what looks like a bright green field of grass on the waiting room floor. Was that a soccer ball that just rolled by? As you run to get a closer look, you forget the fear that gripped you just moments ago. And just like that, you’re engrossed in Hasbro Children’s Hospital’s virtual, interactive play system—made possible thanks to the generosity of Anthony and Grace Del Vecchio.
There is little doubt that a hospital can be an anxiety-producing place for children and parents alike. That’s why our top priority is to ensure that every child and every family member who walks through our doors has the most comfortable experience possible. Everything is designed with the child’s physical and emotional comfort in mind.
Although they have no children of their own, the Del Vecchios have been helping us provide that comfort to children for more than 30 years and since the days when pediatrics was housed in the Potter Building. Shortly after Hasbro Children’s Hospital opened, the couple established The Del Vecchio Family Fund to support Child Life Services.
“What attracted us to Child Life Services was seeing first-hand what the program does for children and their families. We wanted to support an area that helps brighten their day,” says Anthony. “Through all the years we’ve been involved, there’s not a single person at the hospital who didn’t show incredible compassion for the kids they care for.”
Our child life specialists educate children about their illness and what to expect during a test or procedure in non-scary ways. They also engage children in play, storytelling, arts and crafts, and music—as well as specialty programs such as pet therapy.
“No one comes through our doors without a bit of anxiety, so it’s important to make the hospital a happy place for kids and help them understand what’s going on,” says Karen Swartz, child life specialist. “The Del Vecchios have been involved since the very beginning and truly understand the importance of what child life does. They’re extremely dedicated, and everything they do for us is unconditional.”
For kids unable to experience the new interactive play system, another gift from the Del Vecchios allowed us to purchase a large-screen TV and DVD system that plays ten continuous hours of children’s movies. The Del Vecchios have also funded Thanksgiving dinners for patients and their families for more than 20 years, where Anthony never misses an opportunity to help serve the meals.
“Having a hospital like Hasbro Children’s in Rhode Island is wonderful; it’s important that families don’t have to go farther than Providence to get the best care available,” says Grace. “It’s extremely gratifying for us to know we’re making a difference. We hope to continue our support long into the future.”