Impact

150,000+
Kids and Families

Project Sunshine's programs reached over 150,000 kids and families this year

35,000+
Volunteer Sessions

Last year, Project Sunshine's volunteers participated in over 35,000 engagements

325+
Medical Partners

Project Sunshine brightened hospital stays and doctors visits at over 325 facilities

Project Sunshine is the leading volunteer-based organization delivering free, in-hospital programs to pediatric patients and their families.

Each year in the United States, over 3 million children are hospitalized. 30% of chronically ill kids face academic disruption, missing key instruction and vital social interactions.

To remedy this, Project Sunshine partners with over 325 hospitals and medical centers in 175 cities across the United States and 4 international locations to connect them with over 18,000 trained volunteers who deliver socially driven activities to pediatric patients and their families.

We work with Child Life Specialists, Social Workers, Therapists, and Nurses to create a space in the hospital environment for kids to socialize with each other and participate in fun activities that are both recreational and educational.

Opportunities for play and mental stimulation distract patients from their physical and emotional challenges, give caregivers a break to tend to their own needs – like simply getting fresh air and taking a walk outside – and support hospital staff through the provision of additional services and resources.

Short-term benefits:

  • Children facing medical challenges get a chance to act and feel like kids while in the hospital setting
  • Pediatric patients feel more relaxed and less stressed
  • Caregivers take a break and participate in activities that promote coping, relaxation, and socialization
  • Volunteers feel connected to the communities where they live and work
  • Hospital staff feels supported through additional resources


Medium-term benefits:

  • Pediatric patients are distracted from pain and more willing to accept and adhere to treatment
  • Children and their families feel an increased sense of strength
  • Caregivers learn relaxation techniques that help them cope with stressors
  • Volunteers build personal and professional networks and skills
  • Hospital staff are better able to serve children and families


Long-term benefits:

  • Physical, social, and emotional well-being of patients are improved
  • Patients are helped to reach social, developmental, and academic milestones
  • Pediatric patients’ health outcomes are improved
  • Hospitals are transformed into joyful environments for children and families
  • Volunteers’ lives are enriched through meaningful community service
  • Increased awareness of the non-medical needs of pediatric patients and their impact on recovery

Meet Nakayla

A superhero with a heart of gold. Find out how Project Sunshine helped Nakayla and her mother Ruth power through the stress, isolation, and fear that accompanies illness.

Have a sunshine story of your own? Tell us!

Every Child Needs Time to Play

Did you know that play is one of the most effective methods of reducing stress for kids?

Providing opportunities for children to play during their hospitalizations not only normalizes an unfamiliar, scary setting but also helps patients build resiliency and socialize with peers undergoing similar circumstances.

Pediatric patient in halo brace, birthday hat, and arts and crafts decorated sunglasses and volunteer smile

Cooking is Fun & Educational

Did you know that kids are more likely to try new foods when they are presented in interactive, fun ways?

Nutrition is a crucial component of the overall well-being of developing children, particularly those facing medical challenges.

 

Smiling pediatric patient pretends to use a banana as a phone during nutritional cooking program

We've Got Arts on the Brain

Did you know that arts activities not only stimulate creativity and provide opportunities for self-expression, but also increase the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain – lowering stress hormones and allowing the body to heal?

They also have been shown to reduce the need for pain medications and shorten hospital stays.

Pediatric patient in wheelchair makes arts and crafts while volunteer looks on

We Love to Read

Did you know that storytelling not only promotes literacy and listening skills, but also acts as a non-threatening way to explore difficult, anxiety provoking situations that many pediatric patients face? 

Stories are also a way for children to escape their present situations through fantasy and imagination, ultimately helping them better cope.

Volunteer author Mary Ann McDonald reads her book How to Hug to a pediatric patient in a hospital gown

Sunshine Smiles Light Up the Room

Read these patients' courageous stories of how they overcome illness and find the strength to smile. Project Sunshine is proud to be a part of their journeys.

  • Volunteers smiling while holding up rainbows made from fruit during nutritional cooking program

    At the end of the event, one of the little girls tugged on my sleeve and said “ I never knew vegetables could taste so good, thank you!” It makes us smile to know we’re helping them make healthy choices.

    Michelle

    Chapter Leader, Sunshine Chefs
  • Pediatric patient smiles and points to the jewel stickers they put on their face

    When my daughter was in the hospital overnight she participated in art activities and made a scrapbook, thanks to Project Sunshine. It was SO helpful for her to have something positive to do and view the hospital as something worth putting into a scrapbook instead of something to forget.

    Mother

  • Smiling pediatric patient and volunteer with faces painted

    Project Sunshine makes a huge difference. We have trust in your programs and know they will always be something that our patients will enjoy.

    Meghan

    Director of Child Life
  • Smiling pediatric patient making arts and crafts

    As part of an international organization, Project Sunshine has the ability to spread cheer across the globe and be a ray of light to those having a sad day. That’s why I’m very happy and proud to be part of Project Sunshine.

    Yael M.

    Project Sunshine Israel Volunteer
  • Smiling pediatrician in white doctor's coat holds up a love bookmark that was decorated as part of arts and crafts programming

    Project Sunshine is helping us and a lot of others to create an environment that is family - and child - friendly, that helps people cope with what is a very stressful time in their lives. Project Sunshine is so important to the psychological well-being of patients and families.

    Dr. Ira Parness

    Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Mt. Sinai Hospital