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Player 2 Initiative: Catching Up With Volunteer Jon Shim

Jon Shim playing LEGO Batman with a patient at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Jon Shim playing LEGO Batman with a patient at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For roughly two years now, our Player 2 program has provided a way for gamers across the country to support local children’s hospitals by volunteering to offer both their expertise in gaming as well as their working knowledge of the hardware itself — two things which help the hospital and its patients in a multitude of ways.

Around this time last year we sat down with Jon Shim, a Player 2 volunteer, to get a first hand account of what his experience with the program had been like. We caught up with him last week to hoping to hear about any new experiences or stories that had taken place since the last entry, and while he’s recently moved on to a full-time career that’s made it difficult to continue to volunteer regularly, he was able to walk us through was like watching the program grow and evolve from its inception all the way up to the present day.

What are some of your favorite aspects of doing volunteer work?

I think a few of my favorite things about this type of work are seeing the impact that it has on not only kids, but their friends, family members, and the community in general. The other thing is seeing others wanting to get involved in that same cause and watching how much happiness it brings to everyone who’s involved in it in some way or another.

How has the Player 2 program changed at all over the years? 

Although I’m not currently active with the Player 2 program, it has definitely changed in few ways since its beginning. When it was first starting out, it was challenging to get a lot of people involved with it — that was the biggest hurdle. In time, more and more people started becoming aware of it and began reaching out to see if they’d be able to participate. What’s changed the most, in my opinion, is the awareness within the hospital’s environment itself. All of the Child Life Specialists I’ve come across are completely, 100% on board with it, and make it a point to tell every new kid that comes into the hospital all about it. The Child Life Specialists are the real difference makers with the Player 2 program; without them, we would not have had as wonderful of a experience as we have with the kids.

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Any new stories you can share with us since the last time we spoke?

One of the things a lot of people don’t know is the amount of time Player 2 volunteers spend with the kids outside of just gaming. Whether it’s arts and crafts, playing musical instruments in a child life room, doing laps around the floor while pulling one of them in a wagon, or countless other things, the bond that forms between the child and the volunteer is memorable for both of them.

For those want to volunteer but worry it may interfere with school or work, could you ballpark how much of a time commitment volunteering for Player 2 was for you?

By and large, as a member of the program you were limited to only 4 hours a week of volunteering. 4 hours doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it only takes a quick joke told in a few seconds to make someone’s day worlds better than it may have been earlier that day, so if you think about it, all those jokes add up to a lot happy days over the period of months you spend helping out.

Last but not least, what was your favorite game to play with these kids & why?

Definitely LEGO Star Wars. The LEGO games are a huge hit with all age groups really, and with all of the Star Wars movies that have been coming out, a lot of kids loving nothing more than the opportunity to play as the characters in that universe. One really fun thing about it is that game requires teamwork… You really do have to be a great Player 2 through and through to get past a lot of tasks that you need to overcome.

 

We want to thank Jon for his time with the Player 2 program, which no doubt involved as many smiles as it did trips to Dagobah. Soon, we’ll feature stories similar to Jon’s from volunteers who’ve been doing the same noble work all across our country.

Interested in volunteering? Check out this blog to learn how you can be a part of the Player 2 pilot!