New Strong Museum partnership helps hospitalized children get interactive experience

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Strong National Museum of Play announced Tuesday a partnership with the WeGo Foundation to help hospitalized children explore the Strong.

With a kid-friendly, fully controllable robot, children will be able to see, hear, interact and communicate with other museum guests and features — all from their hospital room.

The Golisano Children’s Hospital will also become the first medical facility in the region to join the WeGo network, museum officials say.

“Play is universal—regardless of health or location—and accessibility is a key part of the museum’s mission and values,” says Steve Dubnik, president and CEO of The Strong. “The WeGo Foundation understands this and allows children to restore some autonomy, childhood wonder, and a sense of joy. We’re thrilled to be able to virtually whisk children away from their hospital rooms for some much-needed play. We’re equally thrilled that the Golisano Children’s Hospital will be joining the network, providing these same services to hospitalized children in our community.”

The Strong purchased a robot that will allow children to maneuver remotely through the museum. The robot can display their face and sound their voice. Museum officials said Tuesday that The Strong is the first cultural institution in the area to invest in and offer this program, adding that the museum is also funding necessary tech upgrades, training staff, and developing experiences that will be available for kids and families free of charge in partner hospitals.

“For kids being cared for in the hospital, this ability to virtually embark on real time journeys, to explore the world and make new friends outside of the hospital environment, means everything. It truly helps these kids feel like kids again. We are very excited to be partnering with The Strong and bringing this renowned experience to the bedside for patients,” says Hayden Dux, director of development for the WeGo Foundation.

Museum officials say the WeGo Foundation currently works with 13 hospital systems throughout the country and the Golisano Children’s Hospital will be No. 14.

“Staying at the hospital is never easy for children. This partnership with WeGo and The Strong museum will allow us to provide engaging and interactive virtual experiences for our patients outside the four walls of their hospital room, harnessing the power of technology to create a comfortable environment for the best quality care,” says Heather Reyes, M.D., M.E. assistant professor in the Division of Pediatric Critical Care at URMC and faculty at the UR Health Lab.

“We’re looking forward to this opportunity to partner with The Strong to bring the museum to our children in the hospital and provide them with wonderful educational and interactive activities,” says Wendy Lane, M.S., Child Life program coordinator at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Museum officials say the Strong will offer tours once per month through the end of 2021, scheduled through WeGo, and add additional days per month in January 2022.

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