The state-of-the-art broadcast studio at Cook Children's Medical Center, Fort Worth, Texas, features professional-level equipment, but it's all child's play when it comes to the programming and the excitement the studio generates for young patients.
The $1.5 million studio is the jewel of the Child Life Zone at Cook Children's, the flagship facility of the pediatric health care system that includes more than 60 facilities serving patients from nearly half the state of Texas.
The Child Life Zone includes a space with large-screen TVs, a children's library, theater, kitchen, craft area and games and is part of an addition to Cook Children's. But it's the quality of the broadcast and recording studios that causes eyes to pop, says Shawn Griffith, broadcast studio producer.
Child Life Zone was funded in large part by the Teammates for Kids Foundation, a joint effort of country music superstar Garth Brooks and former football great and current sportscaster Troy Aikman. The studio is among the latest in a wave of privately funded, hospital-based broadcast studios.
As of last November, the studio broadcasts around-the-clock programming to the 465-room facility with one or two live shows usually produced each day. The programming includes game shows in which the kids can participate from their hospital rooms; art shows that encourage children to follow along; interviews with such special guests as hospital staff; and trivia, science and animal shows, and more.
It's the response of the young patients — some of whom are terminally ill — to the programming, and the opportunities to handle the studio cameras and control board, that make a lasting impression, Griffith says. It's all about having fun and providing a healthy distraction.
Cook Children's eventually plans to broadcast to all the hospitals in the health care network and possibly to other pediatric hospitals.