Are you or a group interested in a one-time volunteer opportunity at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia? It is through individuals and volunteer groups that we are able to provide special group activities and entertainment, the positive experiences that promote the children’s ability to cope with their healthcare experience and make their hospital stay more enjoyable.
What is a special group activity?
Special group activities facilitated by group volunteers allow the patients the opportunity for hands-on participation and involvement via unique experiences and activities. Since much of our daily programming allows ample craft and play opportunities, we welcome your creativity in proposing a visit which will provide our patients with a unique and memorable activity. This is your time to explore your talents and skills and share them with our patients and families!
What is special entertainment?
Special entertainment such as a puppet show, a musical performance or a celebrity visit can bring pleasure to a hospitalized child and his or her family. If accepted, your visit may be scheduled in an inpatient or outpatient area.
All applications will be reviewed for appropriateness of activity, size and ages of the visiting group and scheduling availability. Completion of an application does not guarantee acceptance or scheduling of a visit, however we will do everything possible to accommodate your request.
All community visits made to patients will be screened and approved in advance by the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy Department. Consideration will be given to those events that are:
- Highly entertaining, educational and/or therapeutic
- Unique (we can only accommodate so many similar acts)
- Appropriate for various ages (primarily preschool children through young teenagers)
- Physically and emotionally safe (non-threatening, non-violent, etc.)
- Appropriate for the medical conditions of the children (small groups, not too loud)
- Religiously and politically neutral
Special group activity and entertainment ideas*
- Journal making
- Stained glass
- Make your own t-shirts, canvas bags, bandanas, pillowcases, hats, etc.
- Sand art
- Stained glass
- Window decals
- Mosaic picture frames or boxes
- Keychain making
- Sports crafts
- Painting or decorating wooden/ceramic pieces
- Seasonal crafts
*Please note that visiting groups are required to bring all of the supplies necessary for the activity they will facilitate. Supplies for these activities can be found at arts and crafts stores such as Michael’s, Pearl, Frank’s, Christmas Tree Shop or A.C. Moore. As it is often difficult for staff to identify exactly how many children will participate on any given day, please be prepared to have enough supplies for approximately 25 children.
If you have questions about any of these activities or have ideas of your own that you would like to ask about, please contact the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy Department at (215) 590-2001.
Group & Entertainment Volunteer guidelines
Entertainment such as arts and crafts, magic shows, musical performances or celebrity visits can bring pleasure to a hospitalized child and his family. Your visit may be scheduled in an inpatient playroom, outpatient area or in the rehabilitation area of the hospital. The day of your visit will be of greatest benefit if the following guidelines are followed before, during, and after your visit is scheduled.
Planning your visit
- All visiting groups/performers will be screened and approved in advance by the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy Department.
- Previous successful experience entertaining and visiting with children is necessary. Please feel free to submit a video or audio recording and/or letters of recommendation with your application if you feel it will help to further describe the entertainment you will bring to the children.
- For infection control and confidentiality policies, entertainers should be at least 18 years of age and must be in good health (please no children or family of entertainers). For the safety of the patients, anyone who has experienced exposure to or symptoms of flu, measles, mumps, hepatitis, chicken pox, rash, diarrhea or vomiting within the past four weeks may not visit. Any visitor who is currently or has been ill in the past 48 hours is not permitted to visit.
- Most performances take place in small unit playrooms where space is limited. For this reason, visitors/entertainers will be asked to limit the size of the group to eight people. Exceptions will be discussed and approved (i.e. musical groups/choirs singing in larger common areas of the hospital).
Guidelines for the day of your visit
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia treats children with various illnesses and disabilities. For this reason, the audience will vary as far as the amount of children who are able to attend, how long they will be able to stay, and what their attention span will be like during their participation. Events should be interactive and participatory and should run 30 minutes to an hour.
- Attire must reflect the dress code of Children’s Hospital. The following dress code is required: no open-toed shoes, no logo t-shirts with inappropriate slogans, no short skirts, no tank tops, and/or low cut tops. All tattoos must be covered with clothing.
- Visitors/entertainers may not distribute toys, prizes, gifts or food items unless previously approved by the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy Department.
- The children you will be interacting with come from a wide variety of religious, political and social backgrounds. Therefore, we require that the content of any presentation or performance to be religiously and politically neutral.
- Groups should come prepared with all of the items that they will need for the visit. Performances may not include materials that are considered potentially dangerous or threatening (latex balloons, items that are fire hazards such as silly string, or contain themes such as violence, death, illness, medical care, or include scary costumes).
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia maintains strict rules surrounding the privacy and confidentiality of the children it treats. Therefore, we only allow photographs to be taken by approved media in coordination with the Public Relations Department. Also, visitors/entertainers should not ask personal questions of the children’s medical conditions, family situations, treatment protocol and/or prognosis.
- Media coverage, while not encouraged, will be considered based on the content, size, and purpose of the visit/performance. Media presence can distract from the children’s experience and can limit participation due to consent forms for confidentiality. All media invitations or press releases must be coordinated with the hospital’s Public Relations Department at (267) 426-6072 at least a week in advance.
- Due to staff availability, these are the times when we can accommodate special events:
Monday and Thursday: 2 to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 2 to 4 p.m.
- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will not be responsible for any injury, loss of personal belongings or equipment while you are visiting.
- The Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy Department reserves the right to cancel or discontinue special programs at any time if they are thought to be inappropriate or unsafe for the patients.
Things that make visits successful
- Please respect patient and family rights for privacy and make every effort to avoid sensitive topics. Refrain from asking questions about medical conditions, family situations, treatment protocol, prognosis or plans for going home.
- Approach children slowly and quietly. Allow patients to decide to what extent they wish to interact with you. If the child shows any resistance to greeting you, do not persist (and don't take it personally).
- Successful events are age-appropriate, appeal to preschool children through young teenagers, and invite participation to some extent. Techniques such as asking open-ended questions, providing rhythm instruments, and engaging children in an arts and crafts project provide a connection between the visitor/performer and the children and families.
- Seek the advice of the child life specialist or other hospital staff if you have questions about the performance content, length, etc., or about the children's needs.
- Smile, enjoy yourself, and most of all, remember that children in the hospital are still children!