Over the past year, the Seacrest Studios at Children’s National has helped children heal through music, entertainment, and creative expression. This month marks the first anniversary of the studio’s opening, and the occasion was marked by a birthday party at the hospital. View more photos.
The 920-square-foot multimedia studio, located in the main atrium of the hospital, broadcasts age-appropriate radio and television programming throughout the hospital. But the concept of Seacrest Studios is much more than what meets the eye: it has the ability to distract kids away from the pain, stress, and boredom that often come with a hospital stay.
“[Seacrest Studios] has given our sweet girl smiles on really hard days,” said Maryrose Gill, mother of 6-year-old Kerrigan. “It has given her the chance to sing when she may have felt like crying. It has given her the ability to express herself, dance, and feel beautiful even when she is connected to wires, tubes, and IV poles.”
Asked what she would tell the many donors who made the studio possible, Gill said, “I know I speak for others when I say, as a parent, there really isn’t any way to thank you enough for all that you have done and continue to do for our children. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being the reason for our child’s smiles.”
Patients can visit the studio or watch from their rooms, laughing at the clown show, dreaming of far off lands during the storytelling segments, flexing their mental muscles during the trivia questions, and singing and dancing during the radio hour. Over the past year, Seacrest Studios has produced 40 original programs and 25 original commercials; an additional seven shows were created by patients. Seacrest Studios has welcomed more than 4,500 visitors and 1,500 inpatient callers. Celebrity guests have included Katie Ledecky, Robin Thicke, Lucy Hale, Flo Rida, and, of course, Ryan Seacrest.
“Our focus at Children’s National is the patients themselves, and the Seacrest Studios embodies our commitment to medical and emotional healing,” said Martha Parra, MSN, RN, Vice President for Clinical Support Services. “We’ve had thousands of patients watching our programming, coming down to visit the studio, and calling in from their rooms. Even though they are receiving treatment, we still want our kids to have the chance to laugh and learn. Seacrest Studios helps make it possible for kids to still be kids.”
The first Seacrest Studios was opened in Seacrest’s hometown of Atlanta in 2010; on Nov. 6, 2015, Children’s National became the ninth pediatric hospital to open a Seacrest Studios. "This idea came to me after spending time at different hospitals around the country, talking to patients and their parents and asking them what they do in the hospital," Seacrest said at the opening of the Seacrest Studios at Children’s National in November 2015. "A lot of them said they often got bored and run out of things to do. So I tried to figure out what I could do to tangibly help with that, and I thought that creating a diversion or distraction in the hospital might be a way that we could give them something to do, and help them forget why they are there for a minute, and put a smile on some faces may not be smiling so much.”
Children’s National is fortunate to have this dynamic initiative in its hospital because of the power of philanthropy—Seacrest Studios is funded entirely by donations. The Ryan Seacrest Foundation plays a large role in funding the opening of each Seacrest Studios, and each hospital must also garner local and national support. In addition to the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, the Children’s National family is grateful for the generosity of the Board of Visitors at Children’s National, HITT Contracting, Pepco, GetWellNetwork, May Liang and James Lintott, The Coca-Cola Company, iHeart Media, ACM Lifting Lives, and other donors.