The countdown begins: 3, 2 and 1. “Hey guys, it’s Mat and Brianna, and we are live in Sophie’s Place studio right now.”
Brianna Chambers and Mat Vido, studio coordinators in the Sophie’s Place Broadcast Studio in Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, are streaming through the hospital’s closed-circuit television channel, Get Well TV. Their show, Radio Talk Show (despite the name, patients can watch as well as listen), was the studio’s first live broadcast after months of preparation and planning. It launched in October.
The bubbly duo sound much like the personalities on radio stations and podcasts. They chat about how they spent their weekends, how much they love The Incredibles 2, national cupcake day, the perfect pizza toppings and other important topics — like the difference between French dips and Fun Dip. The half-hour show, which airs one to two times weekly, is punctuated with music and calls from patients, listening or watching from their rooms, who answer questions posed by the hosts, such as whether it’s appropriate to start playing holiday music before Thanksgiving.
‘Social and creative outlet’
For patients like 10-year-old Morgan Passalacqua, the studio can be a fun distraction.
“The shows and programs really lifted her spirits,” said her mother, Stacey Passalacqua. “She was going through some tough procedures, and it always put a smile on her face.”
Stacey said that “show time” was a bright spot for her daughter and everyone on the unit, including the nurses and staff.
“Children in the hospital often experience extreme periods of isolation when they are unable to interact with their peers as they would normally at school or in their communities,” Chambers said. “Sophie’s Place offers this social and creative outlet that allows connection and play through technology.”
Sara Devaney, the Sophie’s Place studio manager, said such connections are important in giving young patients a sense of community while they are in the hospital. During their stay at Packard Children’s, the youngsters can tune in and see kids who are also receiving care for illnesses and injuries.
“We had one little girl share her cancer diagnosis and remove her princess tiara to show the audience her bald head,” Vido said. “Other children watched the bravery of the girl, then took the courageous step to participate on air after previously feeling too self-conscious.”
Live and recorded shows
In addition to the live talk show, the studio offers daily live and recorded shows, including game shows and “kids’ choice” programs, in which youngsters can help select what they will see that day based on the week’s shows. Patients can also come into the studio to participate on air or call in from their hospital rooms to interact with the studio team and other patients.
The hospital’s child-life studio team is committed to finding ways to connect with all patients, ranging from toddlers to teens, as well as their siblings in ways that are meaningful for each. “We strive to provide opportunities for all ages here in the studio,” Vido said. “We have game shows based on Sesame Street or Disney trivia that speak to our youngest patients, and we create opportunities that are just for teens, like our radio talk show segments where patients call in to share their thoughts or ideas on a given subject. Teens have also joined as co-hosts for some of our TV segments.”
The team notes that even though the studio produces “mass media,” the experience of watching or listening to the shows, or participating in them, can be quite personal and fulfilling for patients. They recalled one boy who came to the studio daily before it had officially opened to film his own projects. He had been in the hospital for many months, and the studio was a place where he thrived. He gained new skills like hosting, editing and interviewing. He inspired the team with new ideas for ways to use the space.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see patients engaged in something, whether it be crafts, singing or just listening to music, and it actually helps them express what they are going through,” Chambers said. “It’s pretty powerful.”
The funding for Sophie’s Place was donated by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and his wife, Barb, through their Forever Young Foundation.
To support the studio please contact Lauren Ploch at firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 736-8280.