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Blog: Program News


Gamers Outreach & AbleGamers Team Up For Kids With Disabilities

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Today, we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with our friends at AbleGamers, a charity organization that provides equipment to children and adults with disabilities who need help accessing video games.

We’ll be partnering with AbleGamers to outfit select GO Karts with their “Expansion Packs” – an assortment of specialized controllers and devices which help make games more accessible to hospital patients with limited mobility. The official press release with all the details can be found below!

It also helps that our organization colors are fairly similar. #TeamOrange

Gamers Outreach and AbleGamers Team Up for Kids with Disabilities
Charity orgs unite to promote gaming accessibility for hospitalized children.

Los Angeles – October 17th, 2017 – Gamers Outreach and AbleGamers are thrilled to announce a new partnership to bring fun to children and adults with disabilities in the hospital setting. AbleGamers is a charity organization that grants custom-made, 3-D printed and specialized equipment to people with disabilities who need help accessing video games. Gamers Outreach is an organization that provides a gaming kiosks (GO Karts) to enable videogames to be brought to anyone anywhere in the hospital. The two charities are partnering to expand accessible gaming opportunities within pediatric environments by equipping select GO Karts with Expansion Packs.

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Expansion Packs by AbleGamers are customized packages of equipment provided to healthcare professionals which contain an assortment of assistive technology such as modified controllers and custom devices used to enable people with disabilities to play video games. AbleGamers also provides accessibility experts to install and maintain these Expansion Packs throughout the life of the project. First launched in early 2016, Expansion Packs have been donated to facilities with multiple special needs patients as a way to ensure gaming experiences are widely accessible.

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GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) are portable video game kiosks constructed specifically for the hospital environment. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, games, monitor, controllers, and occasionally VR devices. GO Karts are secure mobile entertainment units which allow hospital staff to easily provide children with access to recreation at the bedside environment or during long-term treatment.

Gamers Outreach plans to offer AbleGamers’ Expansion Packs as accessories to GO Karts, with the hope of expanding the variety of materials available to hospital staff who support patients with limited mobility. The partnership will kick off with a joint donation being made to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“In the hospital environment, we support a wide array of patients, including children who have limited mobility,” said Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach. “There’s an obvious synergy between our programs and the work of AbleGamers. The Expansion Packs equipped to our GO Karts will provide healthcare professionals with a diverse entertainment toolkit. Ultimately, we believe these devices will help ensure the joy of gaming is experienced by all patients, regardless of their circumstances.”

“The work we do to support people with disabilities is bigger than us.” said Steven Spohn, AbleGamers COO. “There are 33 million children, adults and veterans with disabilities in America alone. Gamers Outreach has been a friend and ally since the creation of both organizations. It’s a natural fit, now that we both have generous supporters who believe in helping those in need, to come together and help even more people. Together, we will ensure that children inside the hospital and at home can enjoy a distraction from the sometimes scary hospital environment.”

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The partnership will be celebrated October 20th – 22nd at TwitchCon 2017 through a joint exhibition between the two organizations. Streamers and gaming fans attending TwitchCon will have the chance to learn more about each group’s work and contribute to the cause.

More information about the two charities can be found at www.GamersOutreach.org and www.AbleGamers.org.

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About AbleGamers

The AbleGamers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity that wields the power of video games to break down the barriers of economic and social isolation for people with disabilities. Through received support and donations, AbleGamers provides disabled gamers with assistive technologies (including their Expansion Pack program) that allow those with limited real-world mobility to experience what it is like to walk, run, climb, drive and even fly – in a virtual world.

About Gamers Outreach

Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides recreation to children in hospitals through the power of video games and the gaming community. Hospitalization can often be a lonely, isolating, and scary experience for young people. Gamers Outreach eases those burdens by providing equipment, technology, and software that help kids cope with long-term treatment.

GO Karts Revving Up This October

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In late July, we dropped one of the biggest announcements in the history of Gamers Outreach. In case you missed it: we’re partnering with an organization called Child’s Play to construct GO Karts for more than 120 healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada!

With support from Child’s Play, we’ve also been able to upgrade our manufacturing process. Fellow build-geeks will be excited to hear we’ve updated our tooling from vacuum forming to injection molding. Injection mold tools allow for higher quality finishes on plastic materials, and reduce costs associated with building large numbers of GO Karts.

One of the tools used to construct the base of a GO Kart!

One of the tools used to construct the base of a GO Kart!

To that end, we’re pleased to share we’ve nearly finished the upgraded tools, and as mentioned in the Child’s Play announcement, are currently on track to roll out the latest batch of GO Karts this coming October!

In addition to the GO Karts built on behalf of Child’s Play, we’ll also be deploying units funded by donors / streaming efforts in the last year – including karts supported by events such as Gamers for Giving and the PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS fundraiser! Collectively, more than 200 GO Karts are being constructed for hospitalized children!

This is a massive quantity of units, representing more than twice as many GO Karts as we’ve ever constructed to date! Our current expectation is to fulfill deliveries throughout the months of October 2017 – February 2018.

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Interested in getting involved? We’re looking for volunteers across the U.S. and Canada to help equip GO Karts with gaming peripherals once they arrive to hospitals! Volunteer applications can be submitted here. Once we start scheduling deliveries, we’ll reach out if a unit is expected to be deployed in your area!

As always, we’re incredibly grateful to the gaming community for supporting this work in pediatric hospitals. The need for activities and recreation in these environments is massive, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing joy and relief to hospitalized kiddos across the land.

 

Player 2 Volunteers Wanted at Mott Children’s!

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Edit: This article was updated on August 4th, 2017 to include revised dates for the volunteer information session organized by Mott.

This is a call to action! We’re looking for Michigan-based gamers to volunteer at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital through a program we’ve been testing called Player 2!

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog articles for the last year, you may already be familiar with the program! If not, here’s a quick summary: Player 2 is a new initiative we’re piloting at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. As part of the program, gamers have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve acquired through gaming in a manner that supports patients and staff within healthcare facilities. Responsibilities may include…

  • Distributing games to patients throughout the hospital.
  • Providing minor tech support for issues that arise with equipment (game updates, connectivity troubleshooting, installing software, etc.)
  • Playing games with kids!

As a volunteer, you’ll be required to commit at least 3 hours per week to visiting with patients over the course of two academic semesters. The semesters do not need to be back to back, and scheduling is flexible. All volunteers will ultimately need to pass the hospital’s qualification process, which requires an in-person interview, background check, immunization shots, and general training to interact with patients.

While we’re specifically looking for individuals with extensive gaming knowledge, it’s important to note that responsibilities may also be non-gaming related during your time as a volunteer (i.e. cleaning toys or gaming materials, assisting kids in playrooms, helping children with arts & crafts). Day-to-day tasks vary depending on the needs of patients.

Still with us? Great! Here’s what you need to do to get involved:

  • Step 1: Fill out our volunteer application. All applications must be submitted by or before August 31st (at the absolute latest).
  • Step 2: If you meet our criteria for the program, a representative from Gamers Outreach will get in touch within 1 to 3 business days to let you know you’re eligible for participation! In the event we receive too many applications, or your application doesn’t meet our current expectations, we’ll invite you to apply again at a future time.
  • Step 3: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital will be hosting an information session to provide you with an idea of what life is like in the hospital. Attending this session is mandatory for all applicants, but does not equate to a hard volunteer commitment. The session will be held at Ford Auditorium on September 7th, from 6:30 – 7:30 PM.
  • Step 4: A Gamers Outreach / C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital representative will follow-up after the information session to confirm whether or not becoming a Player 2 volunteer is still of interest, and if so, discuss next steps for involvement!

For any gamer who wants to give back, Player 2 is a great way to make a difference. Player 2 volunteers help normalize the hospital experience by ensuring kids have access to equipment and socialization during treatment. Player 2 volunteers become a resource for parents, patients, and hospital staff who need help from gamers to ensure kids have access to recreation and activities! It’s a great opportunity for us gamers to apply our skills, and help others level up!

We hope you’ll consider joining us at the hospital!

Gamers Outreach and Child’s Play are teaming up for the kids!

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Fellow gamers, today we have some incredible news to share! Gamers Outreach is partnering with Child’s Play to construct GO Karts for kids in more than 120 healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada!

Holy cow, right!? Below is the formal press release with all the details!

Game Industry Charities Unite In Support Of Hospitalized Children
Child’s Play & Gamers Outreach partner to construct “GO Karts” for more than 120 healthcare facilities across U.S. & Canada.

Los Angeles – July 25th, 2017 – Gamers Outreach Foundation (Gamers Outreach) today announced a partnership with Child’s Play Charity (Child’s Play) to build GO Karts for more than 120 healthcare facilities across the U.S. and Canada.

GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) are portable video game kiosks constructed specifically for the hospital environment. Each unit is equipped with a gaming console, games, monitor, controllers, and occasionally VR devices. GO Karts are secure mobile entertainment units which allow healthcare professionals to easily provide children with access to recreation at the bedside environment or during long-term treatment.

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As many as 350,000 children could benefit from the newly constructed GO Karts on an annual basis, which are expected to race forward in October of 2017.

With grant funding provided by Child’s Play, GO Karts will be produced for each hospital in the Child’s Play network across the U.S. and Canada. The partnership marks a substantial period of growth for both organizations, which respectively work to improve the lives of children through toys and games.

“This partnership is a massive win for hospitalized kids and healthcare professionals that support their well-being,” said Zach Wigal, Founder of Gamers Outreach. “Child’s Play has been a champion for pediatric care since 2003, and they’re one of the original pioneers of philanthropic engagement within the gaming community. We’re incredibly excited to be working with their team, and to see the joy of gaming be shared with so many children and families.”

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“Child’s Play is thrilled to be able to work with Gamers Outreach to provide their GO Karts to our partner facilities,” said Kristin Lindsay, Child’s Play Foundation Coordinator. “These kiosks are an ideal solution for children’s hospitals to bring the familiar fun of video games to kids while keeping things simple to use and maintain for Child Life staff. Games are a key factor in normalizing the hospital experience for pediatric patients and Child’s Play is proud to assist that mission.”

To get involved or learn more about the partnership, visit www.GamersOutreach.org and www.ChildsPlayCharity.org.

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About Child’s Play

Founded in 2003, Child’s Play is a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in its network of over 220 facilities worldwide, including hospitals and domestic abuse shelters. Child’s Play works in two ways. With the help of hospital staff, the organization sets up gift wish lists full of video games, toys, books, and other fun stuff for kids. Child’s Play also receives cash donations throughout the year. With those cash donations, the organization purchases new consoles, peripherals, games, and more for hospitals and therapy facilities. Donations allow for children to enjoy age-appropriate entertainment, interact with their peers, friends, and family, and can provide vital distraction from an otherwise generally unpleasant experience.

About Gamers Outreach

Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides recreation to children in hospitals through the power of video games and the gaming community. Hospitalization can often be a lonely, isolating, and scary experience for young people. Gamers Outreach eases those burdens by providing equipment, technology, and software that help kids cope with long-term treatment.

Blank Children’s Receives GO Kart

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Our first GO Kart for the state of Iowa was recently delivered to Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines! Constructed by 16 year old Johnathan Dooley, this particular unit represents a pure community effort – driven by friends, family, and fellow gamers.

Blank Children’s Hospital is a 108-bed environment that embraces and encourages families to be a part of their child’s healing and recovery. Everything within the hospital, from equipment to decor, is designed specifically for children – which makes our GO Karts a perfect fit for patients going through treatment!

Inspired by our board member Fwiz, Johnathan Dooley became involved in our cause last year when he learned about our efforts online and from our annual fundraising event, Gamers for Giving. As a high school student, Johnathan wanted to make a difference through his passion for playing video games. After creating a fundraising campaign, he began reaching out to his peers and family members in support of his quest to bring a GO Kart to Des Moines, Iowa. It didn’t happen overnight, but thanks to a bit of persistence (and being extraordinarily patient as we worked to construct GO Kart 2.0), Johnathan was able to raise all the funds necessary to build his GO Kart for kids at Blank Children’s!

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It was our honor to have Johnathan and his father join us at the hospital, and see the GO Kart delivered firsthand. We’re so proud of his accomplishment. Johnathan’s success is a lesson for all of us. No matter what age you are, it’s always possible to make an impact.

We’re glad to be supporting patients at Blank Children’s Hospital, and hope this GO Kart will be of service for years to come!

In the words of DJ Khaled, “and another one.”

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Bluehole Contributes $100K; Visits Seattle Children’s

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In early May, streamers from across the gaming community took part in the first ever PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS Charity Invitational. The event, which brought together 128 Twitch streamers from Europe and North America, was a celebration of the game’s incredible success and the gamers who’ve supported its development. With a $100K match from Bluehole Inc, the gaming community raised more than $223,000 in support of our quest to provide hospitalized children with access to recreation.

This week, we had the chance to give the Bluehole team a tour of Seattle Children’s Hospital and demonstrate how these funds will impact our programs. During our tour, staff from Seattle Children’s Hospital spoke to Bluehole’s CEO, Gang-Seok Kim, about the importance of video games in the hospital environment, and how GO Karts play a daily role in the lives of patients.

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“I was honored to visit Seattle Children’s Hospital to see first-hand all of the incredible work that Gamers Outreach does,” said Gang-Seok Kim, CEO of Bluehole Inc. “Helping create new video game kiosks is one small way to show how much we appreciate the dedication and kindness that the staff at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and the team at Gamers Outreach puts forth every day.”

Donations from the Charity Invitational event, including those matched by Bluehole, Inc. will go towards supporting children and teens throughout the healing process via our unique GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts), which are portable, medical-grade video game kiosks that enable hospital staff to easily provide bedside recreation to children who are unable to leave their rooms in hospitals.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this incredible fundraiser! Our current expectation is to activate these funds throughout the summer, with new GO Kart deliveries taking place at some point in August / September. We can’t wait for you to see the results!

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Rady Children’s Upgrades Fleet

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Our friends at Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego, California received a whole bunch of new GO Karts this week, bringing the total fleet count to 5 units inside the hospital!

As one of the largest pediatric hospitals in California, gaming is in constant demand at Rady Children’s. In 2014, the hospital provided care to more than 196,000 children. Nearly 20,000 of those cases were inpatient admissions.

Our first GO Kart was donated to their facility in 2015 thanks to funds raised by Serious Gaming. The GO Kart was put to immediate use, and has been in constant daily circulation since its delivery.

Noticing its frequent demand, internal donors at the hospital rallied together to make this recent delivery possible. Now, multiple floors within the facility have access to GO Karts as a way to ensure games are accessible to patients that are unable to access playrooms during treatment or long-term care.

We’re excited to see these GO Karts roll into their new home, and hope they’ll be of benefit to patients and families for years to come!

 

GO Kart for Mary Bridge Children’s

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Another GO Kart has been deployed to the Pacific Northwest! Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital of Tacoma, WA has received one of our new units thanks to a donation from the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor North.

Rotary clubs are social networks comprised of individuals around the world dedicated to making lasting change in their communities. For more than 110 years, Rotary members have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects at both a local and worldwide scale.

Through member contributions, the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor North was one of the first organizations committed to helping us construct our new GO Karts for hospitalized children. It was exciting to see their first unit delivered to patients at Mary Bridge Children’s, and we’re incredibly grateful for their support as we worked to develop our new GO Kart throughout 2016. It just goes to show – whoever you are, or whatever your affiliation with gaming / hospitals might be – anyone can band together to help support patients and families!

The new unit started accumulating mileage the moment we finished installing games. Hospital staff recently sent us a photo of a patient named Makoa (below), whose parents had this to say…

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“Makoa loves playing with the new Xbox! He was so excited when it was brought in. He loves playing Minecraft, just like he’s at home. It really helps him to forget everything else he’s going through. Thank you so much to (Gamers Outreach). It’s really going to be a great distraction and bring comfort to so many kids.”

We’re so glad to see this GO Kart supporting patients at Mary Bridge Children’s, and look forward to hearing many more stories like Makoa’s for years to come! Thank you to the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor North for making this contribution possible! Their donation has been added to our impact map.

GO Karts for SIUH

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From coast to coast, our new GO Karts are rolling out to children’s hospitals across the land! Shortly before Gamers for Giving, we had the opportunity to deliver two of our new units to Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH). SIUH is the first facility in the state of New York to receive our new GO Karts, and of the hospitals on our waiting list, were arguably the most patient as we worked to develop the new units!

One of the great things about our work is having the chance to meet so many inspiring individuals and organizations who actively work within pediatric hospitals, helping to make life better for patients and their families. This delivery was made possible thanks to the efforts of a group called Charity Gaming, a nonprofit which works to provide video games to hospitalized children in New York. Thanks to a live streaming marathon, as well as internal donations from supporting members of the hospital, at this very moment, two GO Karts are now rolling through the hallways of SIUH! Manhattan’s New York 1 news station even stopped by to cover the delivery!

Staff and patients were thrilled to rev up their units for the first time. Huge shout out to Charity Gaming for all their work in raising the funds to make these GO Karts a reality. We’re so proud to play a role in helping you supporting the kids of New York!

Charity Gaming’s donation has been added to our impact map on the home page and GO Kart program page of the Gamers Outreach website. Congratulations to everyone who made this possible! We hope these GO Karts make a tremendous difference at your hospital!

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SEA Children’s Receives 10 GO Karts

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Well fellow gamers, the long awaited day has finally arrived! Yesterday at Seattle Children’s Hospital, we hosted our first ribbon cutting ceremony for the next generation GO Karts!

In addition to christening the new GO Karts, this week also held special weight in our hearts. Coincidentally, Gamers Outreach turned 10 years old this past Monday. It was this week in 2007 when our high school Halo tournament was canceled, leading to the start of our organization. What better way to celebrate than by delivering an equivalent number of new GO Karts?

Talk about serendipity, right?

For those who’ve been following our blog posts, for the past year, we’ve been working to construct a new version of our portable gaming kiosks – affectionately known as GO Karts. Now that the process is complete, we’re in a position to build way more GO Karts, way more efficiently – which means way more hospitalized kids will have access to recreation!

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Driven by funds raised at last year’s Gamers for Giving, and donations throughout 2016, we’ve already been able to build more GO Karts than have been constructed in the entire program’s existence. Now we’re working to deliver this new batch to hospitals across the country – and yesterday we dropped our largest donation to-date at Seattle Children’s Hospital!

This particular delivery was a true community effort, pioneered by Aaron Greenberg and Team Xbox, with support from Infiniscene and the CREAG Foundation, along with streamers such as Mr_Monopoli, CrReam, Darkness429, and Stallion83. Through their efforts – 10 next generation GO Karts now exist within Seattle Children’s Hospital!

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“I have the pleasure of working with patients and their families in the ICU and often use the GO Kart system,“ said Jennifer Baker, child life specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “The GO Karts have been a valuable resource in providing entertainment, distraction and normalization for these patients.  It is an honor to be receiving such a generous gift knowing how much joy these bring our patients at Seattle Children’s.”

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Aaron’s enthusiasm has been inspiring – both for our staff, and our partners. As lifelong gamers, it’s been humbling to receive such an outpouring of support from Team Xbox. We’re incredibly grateful to know this gift will be of such value to patients and staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

This contribution wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the collective gaming community. Aaron’s fundraising efforts were amplified by the team from Infiniscene, who matched more than $12,000 in donations to bring these GO Karts into existence.

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“It’s amazing to see this project come to life,” said Gamers Outreach founder Zach Wigal. “We’re a team of passionate gamers, and we’re thankful to support patients and their families within hospitals. To do so through a medium we love is incredibly special. ”

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With this delivery, Seattle Children’s Hospital has the most GO Karts of any healthcare facility we support – for now ;).

Our deepest thanks to everyone who supported Aaron’s campaign, to Infiniscene for generously matching donations, and to our community – for being with us these past 10 years as our cause has grown! You’ve all made an incredible difference in the lives of hospitalized children across the country! Here’s to the next 10. Let’s help others level up!

We’ll see you at the next one.