Pediatric patients at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health got an extra special treat this week, when they were able to attend their very own Halloween party complete with donated toys and costumes.
The annual Halloween party thrown with support from the Spirit Halloween store is a way to give kids the chance to celebrate the holiday, even if they’re stuck in the hospital on October 31.
Melissa Sexton, special events coordinator and child life specialist at the Riley Hospital for Children, said in just the first hour more than 115 patients and family members joined in the festivities.
“The first person that came through—he had his costume on within the first 15 minutes of the party,” said Sexton, who said the boy was the brother of a very sick patient. “He was excited, he felt like the party was just for him.”
Kids, from infants to teenagers, were able to choose from dozens of different costumes--from ninja to princess—and even get their face painted.
Some children arrived in wheelchairs or even in Riley Children’s Hospital wagons so that they could take part. Sexton said anyone in the hospital could join in and some patients from the pediatric oncology floor and some in observation after surgery also made it to the celebration.
However Sexton pointed out that some children were too ill to make it to the party and in those cases family or friends picked out a costume to bring back to the patient. “Our parties always travel,” said Sexton.
The patients will get to celebrate again on Halloween when they can go “trick-or-treating” in the hospital and pick up toys or activities instead of candy, since many patients have dietary restrictions.
“Kids leave with bags filled with crafts, activities and games. We focus on things to do and fun things to hang up in their room,” said Sexton.
Sexton said the hospital is always looking for new and fun ways to celebrate holidays so patients still feel like they can have some parts of a normal life.
With holiday parties, Sexton said, patients realize, “They haven’t been forgotten while they’re in the hospital and they’re still OK to do normal things. To create normalcy this is one tool we use to help them cope.”