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Ballad Health adds therapeutic, all-abilities playground to Niswonger Children’s Hospital

Friday, April 30, 2021

Ballad Health adds therapeutic, all-abilities playground to Niswonger Children’s Hospital

Ballad Health is announcing the latest addition to Niswonger Children’s Hospital – a playground that’s accessible to children’s hospital patients and their siblings, regardless of their abilities and development. 

The new playground is an extension of the hospital’s therapy department and includes a saucer swing, roller slide and music center that can also be used to further children’s treatment plans.

“The hospital can be stressful for children, so we’re glad to be able to bring this playground in to help alleviate some of those worries,” said Lisa Carter, chief executive officer of Niswonger Children’s Hospital and chief executive officer of the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network. “It’s a haven for our patients and their siblings at what very well might be one of the most overwhelming times of their lives.”

The playground’s equipment makes it possible for all children – regardless of their abilities – to play. The equipment is adaptable to allow children with wheelchairs or other medical assistance devices to play, and its versatility means the playground can be used for therapy sessions.

“Play helps children cope with unfamiliar environments and complex feelings, and something like a playground is an excellent tool to help facilitate both physical and emotional healing,” Carter said. “Children who would normally receive services indoors can have therapy outside instead.

“This playground is another step Niswonger Children’s Hospital is taking to meet the needs of our entire population and normalize play for everyone.”

Support from the Speedway Children’s Charities Jeff Byrd Grant, Children Exceeding Expectations School – a program that helps bring a sense of normalcy and structure to children in treatment for cancer – and donations collected through the 2020 Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon funded the playground. The Radiothon is the children’s hospital’s second-largest annual fundraiser, and to date, it has raised more than $2.8 million for babies, children, teenagers and their families in the Appalachian Highlands.

“When I look at this playground, it really puts into perspective how much the Appalachian Highlands cares about children and about our futures,” said Jack Simpson, president of Ballad Health Foundation. “Our community members, their friends and their families looked into their hearts and found a way to make our mission possible. I can’t speak enough to their generosity.”

Radiothon teams, consisting of volunteer community members, raise money by working phone banks and reaching out to their personal contacts to generate support for Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

“Children are not just little adults – they have their own way of perceiving the world, and they have different needs for their emotional and physical well-being in the hospital,” said Hayley Dietrich, a longtime Niswonger Children’s Hospital supporter who also serves as director of Children Exceeding Expectations School.

“Even if children are in the hospital, their childhoods should be a pure and magical time. By supporting Niswonger Children’s Hospital and its annual radiothon, I’m very proud to have had a role in making this playground a reality.”

The new playground is the newest piece of the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network, a region-wide system of healthcare and community services that raise the bar for quality healthcare for the children of the Appalachian Highlands. Announced in early March, the Niswonger Children’s Network is a $60 million investment in local children’s care.

“Philanthropy is what built Niswonger Children’s Hospital more than a decade ago, and philanthropy will continue bringing the next level of care to the region,” Carter said. “This is a team effort and it makes children’s health – and their lives – better every single day.”

Gifts to the Niswonger Children’s Network can be made any time by going to Ways You Can Make a Gift.

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