Child’s Play is not only an incredible charity, but it’s staffed by amazing people. We’re incredibly fortunate to have gotten a hold of Jamie Dillion, who handles Program Coordination & Development for the organization. She was incredibly accommodating and answered some questions for us regarding both Child’s Play, and their new domestic violence shelter initiative.
Myke: How do you feel Child’s Play makes a difference?
Jamie: Games can be incredibly powerful to distract, support, and empower people and that’s especially true for sick kids. Hospitalization brings a lot with it; social isolation, feelings of helplessness, often the inability to play like they normally would – it can be extremely scary and unfamiliar. Through games, kids can play again; they can interact with family, be heroes, and just be kids for a bit. Being able to escape from the fear and pain of illness or injury is vital for kids and can increase their compliance with doctors and nurses and they even report feeling less pain when focused on a game.
M: What’s been your best experience with the organization?
J: My best experiences are always taking with family members and patients who benefited from games when they needed them most. There are a lot of great stories here: www.childsplaycharity.org/testimonials
For that second question, there aren’t the anecdotes a lot of people usually expect because we don’t actually go to the hospitals in person – everything is shipped from Amazon our our distributor. We work that way because ultimately, hand delivering the gifts means that there are hospital employees that have to take time out of their day to accommodate us and that’s the opposite of what we want. We want their time, energy, and resources to be dedicated to helping the kids.
M: How did you get started with Child’s Play, and how long have you been with the organization?
J: I’ve been with Child’s Play since 2011… now that you mention it, tomorrow is my third year to the day. Whew, took a few minutes of nostalgia there. Anyway. I’ve been with Child’s Play since 2011; I studied a little bit of everything in school but my dream was to work in games or in a non-profit. By no small miracle, my ‘jack of all trades’ approach applied perfectly here where we wear many hats, and working in a games non-profit is now my life. It’s pretty great!
M: Now that Child’s Play has grown so big, and has hit such a major milestone as raising 25 million dollars as a charity, what’s next?
J: Hopefully another $25 million! Honestly, we ask that at the end of every season – what next? How could gamers possibly top this next year? And year after year, the community has. It’s been really incredible. Right now in terms of beneficiaries we’re working on the expansion to the domestic violence shelters. In terms of fundraising, we’re going to keep trying to fostering what’s made Child’s Play what it is: grassroots, gamer-powered events for good.
M: What can you tell me about the domestic violence shelter initiative?
J: We chose domestic violence shelters and facilities because at the core, there’s a lot of similarities for the impacted kids: they’re in an unfamiliar, often scary place, there’s a lot happening that they may or may not understand, there are a lot of strange people around and a lot of familiar ones not around. Essentially, it’s a critical moment for them to be engaged in positive, empowering experiences and that’s really what games provide. Kids can escape the realities of their unfortunate circumstances and be a hero, they can play games with siblings, parents, nurses/advocates, or friends.
In a practical sense, the program is drastically different. The hospitals are large – 100-300 kids to a ward, usually both games and consoles are needed in bulk. In the shelters the need wasn’t for bulk, it was for a functional, standalone system that was easy to use. The games choices have to be extremely carefully considered: even cartoon mischief and cartoon violence can be a trigger for a kid who has witnessed or experienced abuse. We had a lot of new things to consider, which is why we launched the pilot program with an initial 10 facilities and it’s given us great insight to everything from appropriate games to shipping to anonymous facilities. We’re planning to open up applications to other shelters in the spring.
M: Thank you very much, Jamie, for taking the time to answer our questions and help spread more information about Child’s Play.
Take a minute and head over to the Child’s Play charity website to catch up on the latest news, and tune in to Penny Arcade’s Twitch, and you might catch Jamie taking part in the fun!