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Buildup STEAM: Enabling hospitalized kids to cope and create

Program Update: April 7, 2023

“My son hadn’t smiled in five days before the Buildup Educator joined us,” said an emotional mother whose son was staying at Children’s Hospital of Michigan (CHM). She gratefully watched him play with a robotic dump truck that he built himself.

A different child said, “It was nice to take time off of thinking about my problems – I had fun!”

In the past several years since The Children’s Foundation enabled BuildUp STEAM to launch a pilot program at CHM, more than 600 kids have participated in the building bedside robotics. It is a true example of meaningful impact as each of these visits helps boost the mood and morale of ill and injured kids when they need it the most.

Buildup STEAM has also proven itself as expansive impact, taking notice by hospitals throughout the nation. By the end of 2023, it will be in a total of five hospitals in the US, bringing play, education, and a sense of control to kids and their families during a scary and stressful time.

The Children’s Foundation has awarded $112, 690 over the span of three years for program continuation and capacity building.

Original Story: September 2, 2021

For kids who are in the hospital, any positive interactions go a long way. When their life is consumed by tests, tubes, and healing, any chance to experience a normal childhood is essential to their positive mental state. That’s exactly what Buildup STEAM is set out to do: enable hospitalized kids to be kids.

Buildup STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) is a bedside robotics program designed for children’s hospitals. The program’s goal is to get children’s minds off their current situations by providing a creative and educational outlet.

In March, with $40,000 in grant support from The Children’s Foundation, Buildup STEAM expanded its services to reach children staying at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. By the end of June, there were 111 patient encounters, with nearly 70% saying the experience helped them feel energetic and more confident. The program averages about 40 patient encounters per month.

From flowers to frogs, Buildup STEAM allows kids to build a robot using Lego robotics systems as a tool to encourage creativity and play while re-enforcing the STEAM principals. With the help of their instructor and an iPad to control their robot, kids can watch their creations come to life!

“Buildup STEAM has all around been a wonderful addition for our kids,” said Maureen Stys, manager, Child Life & Volunteer Services, Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “It’s something different, taking Legos to the next level. Through developmental play, kids are distracted from discomfort and their hospital experience is improved. They can’t wait until it’s their turn to build another robot.”

This program not only showing kids how to build robots but provides an outlet where they can express themselves. Buildup STEAM is bringing joy in times of darkness while also helping them to learn.

Help us improve the health and wellness of more children and families.

You can help us reach more children and families by making a gift to The Children’s Foundation. Click here to make your gift.

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