Live on air, coming to a children’s hospital near you: Local pediatric patients and their families have a new interactive space to lift their spirits and take their minds off of illness and medical treatments.
The Ryan Seacrest Foundation opens its fifth Seacrest Studio, created for young patients to find their creative voices as they explore radio and television broadcasting, on Monday at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. The grand opening event and studio are not open to the public.
TV and radio host Ryan Seacrest will be on hand for the studio’s unveiling. He’ll be among the first of many celebrities to visit the studio and interact on-air with kids who are eager to find a happy distraction.
“The studio will absolutely lift the spirits of the patients. It’s a happy place,” said Mamie Shepherd, the studio’s program coordinator. “And the parents love seeing their kids when they’re happy.”
Located near the main entrance of the children’s hospital, the 652-square-foot broadcast studio includes five guest microphones, a soundboard, video cameras and a green screen for patients to work on their own video projects.
Patients and their families can come to the studio at any time, and any patient can be on camera if they choose – “It makes them feel like a rock star,” Shepherd said.
Content from the studio will air on a closed-circuit television station in the hospital. Patients can turn on the televisions in their rooms at any time to listen to popular, kid-friendly music, see what’s happening live in the studio or watch pre-recorded original content produced by the studio and the hospital. Kids can even call into the studio to make song requests or give a shout-out to fellow patients.
Local talent and celebrity guests who visit the Charlotte area will make appearances at the studio. Cast members from “The Lion King” musical and the Goo Goo Dolls are among the stars already scheduled to stop by the studio.
For patients who are unable to attend a concert or show because they’re in the hospital, the studio is an opportunity for kids’ favorite celebrities to come to them.
“It’s a distraction,” said Meredith Seacrest, Ryan Seacrest’s sister and executive director of the foundation. “Kids aren’t focusing as much on how they’re feeling when they’re caught up in the moment and the excitement of the celebrity they’re meeting.”
Patients will get to interview the stars on-air. They’ll have a bowl full of interview questions – like, “When you have a bad day, what do you do to feel better?” – to fall back on if they get stuck while talking to a star.
Celebrity guests are good about putting patients at ease and helping them find ways to keep a positive attitude, Shepherd said.
“When you have a good attitude about what’s happening, then your treatment will be better,” Shepherd said. “It’s a good transition to healing.”
The studio will be an additional way for the hospital to offer what’s known as play therapy for patients as part of their healing process, said Leonard Feld, chief medical officer and pediatric chair at Levine Children’s Hospital. As a play therapy component, the studio will be both a distraction and a coping tool for patients, he said.
“Play therapy really adds a great positive impact to our patients,” Feld said. “Many kids appreciate the benefit of this – of playing and letting kids be themselves in the whole process. ...It’s not just medical care, it’s the supportive care.”
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