KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The East Tennessee Children’s Hospital hosted a Spirit of Children Halloween party for patients at this hospital to have a chance to get outside and be kids on Thursday.
The event, which was part of Spirit Halloween’s Spirit of Children program, featured pumpkin painting, crafts, a photo booth, and costumes donated by Spirit Halloween.
16-year-old Joshua Akins was one of the Halloween party-goers out enjoying the festivities. He said while he just found out about it that day, he couldn’t wait to go and it was fun. When asked why he decided to come to the party, his answer was one that anyone who has spent time in a hospital understands.
“Just to get out of the room.” Joshua said.
He said while his favorite part of Halloween is the candy, he also previously dressed up in a homemade costume as a pineapple.
Spirit Halloween says the Spirit of Children program is all about making hospitals less scary for children and their families. At the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, that can look like events, such as Thursday’s party, but it also looks like stocking play rooms and bringing play to children’s bedsides, Megan Debolt, manager of Patient Experience and Child Life at ETCH, explained.
“Today’s our big carnival kicking off the Halloween season. We’ve been working with Spirit of Children for over 10 years now, and we’re so thankful they have raised almost $400,000. That all comes right back to our Child Life department and really allows us to help children who are hospitalized.”
The Spirit of Children Halloween party is one of the biggest events of the year for the Child Life department, Debolt explained. Over the last two weeks, the hospital has been promoting the event to let patients know about the opportunity to get out and play. Debolt said the event, like any chance for children at the hospital to get out of their rooms, is a great opportunity for healing and normalization.
According to Debolt, the department has several Child Life specialists on staff, who help in the emergency department, radiology, the ICU and work with families and children as they cope with hospitalization.
“We know this is scary. It’s not normal. We’re using a lot of big hospital words. So how do we help children understand what’s going on and how do we help meet their needs through play? Because we know that’s what’s normal and familiar for a kid.” Debolt said. “…We’re so thankful for Spirit because a lot of that fundraising that they do for us really helps to support that throughout the year. So not just during Halloween time, but really it supports us year round. ”