As anyone who has had surgery knows, the hours leading up to the procedure can be full of anxiety, not to mention hunger because of the necessary pre-operation fasting. Kids at the Child Life Zone at Denver Health are lucky to have the Zone to take their mind off their hunger and their fears. Playing in the zone gives them a chance to run around, be creative, role play, and BE KIDS.

One patient (pictured) got to explore with an anesthesia mask before his surgery so he was more comfortable with it before the doctor put him to sleep. Another patient, 14 years old, hungry and frustrated because his surgery was delayed, was introduced to the Zone by Child Life Manager Erika Croswhite. “I told him we had a place where he could play video games and foosball and get his mind off the surgery,” says Erika. “Immediately, his attitude changed. We were able to hang out for a while, and I went with him into the OR for his anesthesia induction. I saw him after his surgery, and he thanked me for taking him to the Zone and said how much he loved that place. For me, that’s what the Zone is all about. It completely changes the hospital experience for these kids, and that’s something we are thankful for!”

"Other stories just like these are happening at all Zones across the nation. The idea of having the children play in their anesthesia masks and learn all about the mask BEFORE going into surgery is brilliant!" said Teammates Co-Founder Garth Brooks. "The Zones continue to show their worth and importance to our children's future, thus, our future."