On National Video Game Day, July 8, the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation is celebrating the expansion of its newest initiative, Dunkin’ Connecting Joy, that brings joy to pediatric patients at children’s hospitals through the power of gaming experiences. Today, the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation announced an additional seven Dunkin’ Connecting Joy gaming grants totaling more than $600,000 to children’s hospitals across the country. In 2021, the Foundation launched the Dunkin’ Connecting Joy program with two grants at Boston Children’s Hospital and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital and by committing $1 million to the program.
Armando gaming at St. Joseph’s Children’s in Tampa
The Dunkin’ Connecting Joy program brings joy to pediatric patients through virtual programming, including video gaming, that provides an outlet for them to work on cognitive skills, gain a sense of mastery and control, and offers positive distractions that help them better cope with hospitalization. Gaming has also shown to be a critical tool in improving a child’s hospital experience and overall healing process. Children facing long term and overnight hospitalizations also struggle with loneliness and a feeling of isolation, whereas virtual gaming offers a sense of normalcy and opportunities for socializing with family, friends, and even other patients.
Ryan (left) and Tanaya (right) testing Virtual Reality Goggles at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois
Throughout the country, funds from the Foundation’s Dunkin’ Connecting Joy grants will support purchasing new gaming consoles and devices with more robust gaming experiences, virtual and augmented reality games, and the hiring of dedicated Gaming and Technology Child Life Specialists. Children’s hospitals included in the Foundation’s newest round of Dunkin’ Connecting Joy gaming grants includes:
- Banner Health Foundation – Phoenix, AZ
- Children’s Hospital University of Illinois – Chicago, IL
- Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital – Danville, PA
- St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Foundation – Tampa, FL
- The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center – Portland, ME
- UNC Health Foundation – Chapel Hill, NC
- University of Maryland Children’s Hospital – Baltimore, MD
“Hospital stays can be a stressful experience for kids and teens, but giving them an outlet to express themselves and simply have fun can have such a positive impact on their mental and physical health,” said April McGonnigal, Director of the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation. “This program emphasizes the power of play and how important activities like gaming are for patients.”
Organizations can apply for grants from the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation specifically targeted to their needs, whether introducing gaming to their hospital or enhancing what they already offer. This can include adding a Gaming Child Life Specialist to their staff, purchasing systems, funding connectivity, or offering virtual programming to connect children and teens with other patients in other hospitals. Organizations interested in applying for a Dunkin’ Connecting Joy grant can learn more at www.bringjoy.org.
Since its inception in 2006, the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation has granted more than $40 million to national and local nonprofits. In 2022 alone, the Foundation has awarded 115 grants to hospitals totaling more than $2.3 million to help bring joy to kids battling illness.