INDIANAPOLIS -- The Walt Disney Company has committed $100 million to children's hospitals across the nation through the "Disney Team of Heroes" initiative and one of the hospitals already benefiting from their new effort is Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
The goal of the program is to transform a child's hospital experience by providing care packages of Disney toys, making a tough situation a little easier on both a child and their families.
Maggie Kirles, a Child Life Specialist at Riley, got her "toolbox" restocked thanks to the Disney Team of Heroes Initiative.
"They are not just toys for us, they are tools to use with patients," says Kirles.
Kirles needs toys to do her job the best she can at Riley, toys that are hand-picked for each child.
When RTV6 was visiting Riley, Kirles picked out an Elsa doll and a Lion King magnet set for 6-year-old Riley patient, Brinley Patterson.
"Play is how kids learn and grow, and if we can bring play in and help them feel comfortable or help them understand the experience that they are going through, that just creates a better experience for the patient and their family," explains Kirles.
Patterson was born with a very rare chromosomal abnormality that has let to a lifetime of hospital stays at Riley with more than forty surgeries. Kirles met Patterson when she was only three-months-old. For Brinley's mom, Jennifer Patterson, the time and effort the Child Life Specialists make with her daughter has made a huge difference in her hospital experience.
"It means a lot because being in the hospital is not fun, you have to make it the best with what you got," explains Jennifer Patterson. "But when they are happy no matter how they are feeling, as long as she is smiling and interacting with people, it is worth it."
An Elsa doll and Lion King magnets, two simple things that bring a little bit of laughter and joy to a child at the hospital, can make their stay have a little bit of magic there too.
"It makes her feel special, that child life came and gave her a new toy, it just kind of builds her spirits a whole lot," says Patterson.
Hospital care packages are filled with more than 100 Disney items including toys, games, books and movies, which are carefully selected by experts.
Those care packages are being distributed to over 445 hospitals nationwide.
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