Nintendo uses Wii to lift children’s spirits

Nintendo loves kids. To prove it, Nintendo of America is manufacturing and donating hundreds of new Fun Centers to hospitals throughout the United States and Canada, as part of an ongoing commitment with the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation.

Since the first Fun Centers came out in 1992, more than 5,000 units have been made available in over 1,000 hospitals. The latest additions have featured a DVD player and the GameCube (sorry kids), but now the big N is set to role out an additional 1,200 units featuring the Wii, with 500 more of them to be placed by the end of the year. Current games announced are Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports and Mario Party 8, though more family friendly titles will be included.

“We’re extremely proud to make Fun Centers a part of our collaboration with Starlight,” said Don James, NoA’s executive vice president of Operations. “We hope the new Fun Centers will give kids and their loved ones an opportunity to play, laugh and connect with each other amid trying circumstances.”

The fun centers help children cope with extended hospital stays, which can be both frightening and lonely as any of them can tell you. Hospital staff have also seen marked improvement in children having access to the Fun Centers. Linda Garcia, Manager, Child Development Services, for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles says, “The Fun Centers serve as a diversional (sic) tool for Child Life Specialists to provide to patients and families in the playrooms, at bedside and throughout the hospital, including medical units, clinics and waiting rooms.”

Paula Van Ness, CEO of Starlight also says that, “an added benefit of this new Fun Center model, the Wii technology can be used to encourage children to do physical therapy and motor coordination exercises.”

Hearing about how companies like Nintendo and organizations like Starlight Starbright work to help these kids and their families is truly uplifting news. Gamers can help too, though. If you’re interested in supporting this effort log onto www.millionstars.org and click on Mario’s Star. Here you can leave a supportive message, link to your favorite site or make a donation.

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