ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Detroit Zoological Society is partnering with University of Michigan Health to help children at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
More than 100 plush “care companion” animals were given to pediatric patients at the hospital in Ann Arbor. Children could choose between polar bears, tigers, giraffes, and other animals.
“Participating in this kind of play is just one way to help children feel comfortable with and active in their own care when spending time in the hospital,” said Nadia Thompson, education specialist for the Detroit Zoological Society. “Being in the hospital for any amount of time can be stressful for not just the children, but their families as well.”
The “Care Companions” program is a collaboration between the DZS education team and University of Michigan Health, and DZS team members plan to visit C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital on a quarterly basis to provide these plush animals to pediatric patients.
“C.S. Mott is excited to partner with the Detroit Zoological Society to help spread joy to our Little Victors through the ‘Care Companions’ program,” Mott COO Luanne Ewald said. “We are thankful to DZS for helping bring entertainment and fun to our Little Victors and their families during difficult times.”
One 12-year-old patient, who received his plush animal penguin from the Detroit Zoo years ago, brings “Petey” everywhere he goes, including to every appointment and procedure. When DZS and Michigan team members discovered the boy’s love for “Petey,” they made sure to give him a brand-new plush penguin so “Petey” could have a friend to play with.
“The team’s taking notice to Zakaria’s love for Petey was heartwarming,” said Kelly Byska, Zakaria’s mother. “Seeing the joy the new plush brought to Zakaria during his hospital stay was priceless.”