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Program Happenings in the era of COVID

Video games in hospital.

It’s currently mid-May 2020, and like many organizations, we’ve been navigating the news around COVID on a weekly basis.

Gamers Outreach is focused on making video games available and easy to manage in hospitals. Our goal is to help build a world where play is seamlessly prioritized alongside research and treatment.

Given our support of healthcare workers and presence in pediatric facilities, we’d like to provide an update on what’s happening in the world of Gamers Outreach programs. Thankfully, many of the pediatric hospitals we’ve interacted with these last couple months aren’t seeing children hospitalized due to COVID. However, physical distancing measures are in place everywhere – and most hospitals we’ve spoken with are isolating all patients to their rooms. This also means visitors and volunteers are strictly limited, if allowed at all.

On that note, let’s talk first about Player 2.

Gamers Outreach volunteers visit Omaha Nebraska hospital with Jake Diekman

For those not familiar: Player 2 is a program where gamers become hospital volunteers. While volunteering, gamers help solve minor tech support problems, distribute equipment, and play games with patients. Opportunities to volunteer through this initiative are limited by region. Eligibility is mostly determined by a hospital’s capacity to onboard and manage new volunteers.

Currently, Player 2 volunteers are being encouraged to assist hospital staff through remote communication (video / phone calls, email, etc). Given the general concern around COVID transmission, we don’t anticipate volunteers physically re-entering the hospital environment through 2020. We’ll continue to seek guidance from hospital staff on best protocol for volunteers and general visitors. Everyone’s safety and well-being is our #1 priority.

If you are a hospital interested in receiving remote support for your tech devices, you can sign up to become a Player 2 facility on our website here. If you’re a gamer interested in providing support to hospitals, you can also apply to volunteer on the same web page here.

Let’s shift gears and talk about Project GO Kart.

Joe Jones of the Denver Broncos visits Children's Colorado

GO Karts have been in higher demand than ever. In the last few weeks, we’ve received more requests from hospitals seeking devices than any other period in our history. Our ability to support these facilities is largely driven by donors. In instances where we’re not able to immediately accommodate requests, hospitals are added to our waiting list. As donors step forward or fundraisers are completed, these hospitals are prioritized.

Our GO Karts are built and assembled in Texas. The facility where we construct GO Karts has been deemed essential, and there are a number of measures in place to ensure a healthy environment for our team members there.

We’re currently working on final assembly for our latest batch of units, which includes GO Karts funded by Gamers for Giving streamers and an array of other donors. Shipments from this batch will start being released in early June, and we’ll have inventory on-hand to support subsequent donors / requests in the months following. We’re also maintaining inventory to accommodate our normal volume of requests from donors and hospitals in the interim.

Gamers Outreach portable video game kiosks for hospitals

If you’re a hospital interested in receiving a donated unit, or if you’d like to purchase a GO Kart, you can do so from our Project GO Kart web page, located here. If you’re an individual who would like to gift a unit to a hospital, you can do so through the Donate form located here. If you’d like to rally your community to fundraise for a hospital in your area, you can start an online campaign here.

The commitment to build a GO Kart is $3,500 per unit. This includes the kiosk itself, the gaming console, monitor, controllers, and an assortment of games digitally installed. It also includes freight shipping anywhere in the country, setup assistance, and ongoing support through the years if a hospital needs help!

Of course, general donations can be made on our website at any time here. Contributions are used to help sustain existing program activity AND expand our impact. $10 can help us ship small care packages to hospitals. $30 can help buy a new controller. $60 can help buy a new game. $100 can help provide an Xbox Adaptive Controller. $300 can provide a new console. And as mentioned above, $3,500 is enough to build, deliver, and maintain a GO Kart for multiple years. In our last annual report, 80% of our expenses were program related.

A young gamer at Children's Hospital Colorado enjoys some competition on a GO Kart.

With limitation on visitors and restrictions on patient activity, the purpose of our work is more apparent than ever. Staff are looking for ways to help kids stay active, and gaming has a big role to play. We’re proud to be a part of enriching the lives of children and their families during their time in hospitals. A big thanks goes out to our community of supporters for making all this possible. You’re making a difference each day, and we’re grateful for your involvement.