Meet Claire, who previously served as the chapter leader for the New York University Chapter and is currently an active community volunteer with the Weill Cornell Community Chapter of Project Sunshine. Claire volunteers with Project Sunshine’s Here To Play program, where volunteers visit patients in hospital settings with creative arts activities and other opportunities for social interaction. Read on to experience a day in the life of a Project Sunshine volunteering.
My Fridays are dedicated to bringing joy to the young patients at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The experience is nothing short of fulfilling, and every interaction with the children, their family members, and the dedicated Child Life staff brightens my day.
The first order of business is clocking in, and then I make my way upstairs to the general inpatient pediatrics and hematology/oncology floor where the playroom is located. Often, I'm greeted by the Child Life Specialist, but on days like today, she leaves a list of patients we can invite to the playroom or engage with at their bedside.
The preparation for the session involves unboxing the treasure trove of craft supplies sent in advance by Project Sunshine. Three boxes filled with an array of crafting materials are laid out near the tables where the children and their families gather. This display is not just practical; it's a visual feast for the kids who get to choose what they want to work on from the myriad of options. It’s so special to see their excitement when they see the crafts!
At 2 pm, the playroom doors swing open. Today, we're joined by three children and three family members. Creativity and play begin as one child constructs a miniature race car, another colors a wooden cat , and the third paints a piggy bank. Helping them bring their ideas to life and connecting with their families is a truly rewarding experience. As the session progresses, we find ourselves singing along to Disney songs requested by the patients—inevitably, "Let It Go" is a crowd-pleaser. We also extend our reach outside of the playroom by bringing Project Sunshine activity kits to two children at their bedside to ensure no one misses out on the creative fun.
Our "Here to Play" session spans two delightful hours, concluding at 4 pm when the playroom closes. The children and their families, with their crafts in hand, make their way back to their rooms. It's heartwarming to witness their enthusiasm, knowing that these creations will serve as cherished mementos during their hospital stay.
As the session winds down, my fellow volunteer and I transition into cleanup mode. Tables and chairs are meticulously cleaned to restore the playroom to its pre-session state. We organize the Project Sunshine boxes, categorizing crafts and activities, ensuring they are ready for the next session. Once it’s 4 pm, we officially close the playroom, having made a small but meaningful impact on the lives of these young patients and their families. It's a day well spent, and I leave with a sense of fulfillment, ready to return for the next opportunity to spread joy and creativity.