Originally opened in 1996 as “Aikman’s End Zone,” this space was the first interactive, therapeutic playroom that led to the launch of the Child Life Zone Network. With a vision of pediatric patients having the opportunity to chat with other kids at Children’s Hospitals across the country, the Troy Aikman Foundation and Starbright came together to provide the place and the technology to make it happen.
The Zone was remodeled in 2003 and underwent another renovation that was completed in November 2016. Originally designed as two smaller spaces separated by a corridor and elevators, the Zone is now one large area called "The Big Z." The newly renovated space includes an infant play area, a dramatic play area for school-aged children, and a bubble column which changes colors for sensory stimulation and calming. Patients can be creative in a crafting space and try out new recipes in the kitchen.
There is also a wall of Microsoft X-Box Systems and a Panasonic 9-screen TV with a Microsoft interactive system. The Zone is decorated with sports memorabilia from the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, Southern Methodist University Mustangs of Dallas, and Troy Aikman; and musical memorabilia from Garth Brooks.
This was opened as the second “Aikman’s End Zone” in 1997, continuing the success of Troy Aikman’s vision to provide hospitalized children with a place to play, relax, and learn during their hospital stays. In fact, this state-of-the-art facility introduced the Teammates for Kids Foundation to the concept of a Child Life Zone, which led to the formation of the Child Life Zone Network. Remodeled in 2007 with the help of the NHL in connection with the All Star Game, and expanded again in 2012 in new space provided by the hospital, the new Zone boasts a recording studio and space for families, in addition to a new teen room.
Opened in 2001, this Child Life Zone serves the largest Children’s Hospital in the country. Located on a family floor adjacent to other support services, the Zone fulfills the original zone mission by providing a place for young patients to hang out, play games, and unleash their creativity. In fact, the space includes a Radio Lollipop station, programmed by kids that can be broadcast throughout the hospital.
The Zone at the Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai is the fifth facility of its kind to be created and funded by Teammates for Kids. Located on the first floor by the elevators, the Zone is a therapeutic and educational environment for patients and families to play, learn, laugh and relax. A professional television production studio is just one example of what makes this warm environment with cutting edge technology, offering a range of activities and opportunities that meet the special needs of children coping with illness and hospitalization.
Mount Sinai's KidZone TV is a state of the art, interactive production and broadcast studio within the children’s hospital that produces live programming at least twice a day, seven days a week, for pediatric patients and families on a dedicated channel. Hospitalized children, who are confined to their rooms, are able twice daily to tune in and participate in KidZone TV programming, which includes live entertainment by musicians, actors, choirs, magicians, and science programs, as well as interactive games that promote learning, socialization, and creativity. Children who are not confined to their rooms can participate as camera operators, storywriters, or hosts of the show, while others have the opportunity to view the program and participate by calling in and answering a question, creating a story, or winning prizes.
Additional support for The Zone comes from the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation and The Mount Sinai Children's Center Foundation, as well as individual donors committed to helping seriously ill children and their families.
This Zone opened in 2008, the second to open in conjunction with the NHL and their All Star Weekend. In addition to the key interior elements at a Child Life Zone, including computer game stations, a stage with filming capabilities, a craft area, and places for quiet conversation and learning, the Atlanta Zone has an outdoor space designed to allow patients and families to play ball, golf, or sit by the koi pond.
The Zone at The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City opened in early 2010. Modeled after the past Aikman's End Zone, it is a special haven for child patients and siblings, where they can play, explore, learn, socialize and forget the worries of hospitalization. With more than 6,000 square feet, it houses a Theater Room, Kitchen, Teen Lounge, Infant to School Age Room, Library and Craft Space, Chalkboard Art Wall and a Family Resource Room.
The Zone in Oklahoma City has more than 17,000 visits annually by patients, families and community volunteers. In early September 2012, an outdoor space called the “Children’s Village” opened just outside the windows of The Zone – giving it the best views of the hospital. Teammates would like to thank the Robert "Bob" Moore family for their generosity in bringing this Zone to life and their continuing support of its mission.
The Child Life Zone at Denver Health is a 2-story facility that opened in 2010, marking the first time a Zone project helped initiate a Child Life program in the hospital. As the Rocky Mountain region’s first—and only—Child Life Zone, it provides experience and guidance in establishing the department at Denver Health. The state-of-the-art, therapeutic play area is designed to help soothe the fears and anxieties of hospitalized children and their families, while providing them with information about their condition and treatment.
The Zone at Phoenix Children’s Hospital is the eighth and most recent Zone to open, on November 9, 2012. Adding a Zone to the hospital was the vision of the late Mike Beninato, whose triplets received excellent neonatal care after being born prematurely at a hospital outside Chicago. When the family moved to Phoenix, Mike wanted to show his support to sick and underserved children in the area by giving to Phoenix Children’s, which is one of the ten largest children’s hospitals in the country. Mike approached Garth Brooks about performing a fund-raising concert, and his idea led to Teammates opening a new Child Life Zone at the hospital.
Like the other Zones, the Zone at Phoenix Children’s is a safe haven from medical procedures, where pediatric patients can escape the reality of their condition as they engage in creative and therapeutic play. This Zone contains the Garth Brooks Stage, a performance space for patients and visiting celebrities; a multi-use theater for films and other performances; a kitchen and dining area, in which patients can prepare food; a Teen Space, including games and computers to encourage peer interaction; a family resource library; and a quiet area for healing services including yoga, meditation, and massage.
Colorado Children's Hospital
The Child Life Zone at Children’s Minnesota is overflowing with adventure, enthusiasm, and smiles! This therapeutic and educational environment offers patients and families daily opportunities to engage in theme-based art activities, laugh and express themselves by creating souvenir photos in the Zone’s photo booth center, and socialize while playing bubble hockey, basketball, air hockey, and board games. The newly designed Zone Speedway, an outdoor remote control racetrack, is a popular attraction for all ages. Kids can explore state-of-the-art technology through the Smart Table and media wall with various gaming systems. Quieter activities include story time and reading in the library area, where book check-outs are available. Another appealing feature of the Zone is the Star Studio performance space that broadcasts live interactive television shows. Patients and siblings are thrilled either to play a part in live performances in the studio, or to use the call-in option from their rooms.
While serving as a valuable place for child life interventions, music therapy, horticulture, pet therapy, and expressive arts, the Zone is host to a wide variety of special events with visits from musicians, athletes, artists, celebrities, animals from the Minnesota Zoo, and other community supporters. From super hero window washers, to celebrations with professional sports teams, to the annual Minnesota State Fair get-together, patients and families are able to enjoy an exciting array of activities to enhance coping during their hospital experiences. Through every Child Life Zone interaction, our mission is clear: Kids First!
At each of Teammates for Kids’ Child Life Zones, we’ve learned that it’s not enough to simply raise the money to build and open the zone. As with any other property, we need to have the resources to support the ongoing quality and programming within each zone, ensuring the long-term viability of these special places. Each zone must be maintained and updated to keep it functioning as a top-notch facility, with the latest technology, offering the best experience to the kids.
A Zone Angel is an individual or family in the local community who believes in the good work that goes on at the zone, and decides to make a 10-year financial commitment to maintaining that particular zone. For more information on becoming a Zone Angel, contact Jason Grahame.