For patients at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul, last Friday was a day to celebrate the opening of the hospital’s new Child Life Zone – an interactive, state-of-the-art therapeutic play area where kids can be kids away from the stress and pressures of their medical treatments. The addition of this Zone expands Teammates for Kids’ Child Life Zone Network to 11. Other locations include hospitals in Atlanta, Denver, New York, Phoenix, and Denver.

Teammates co-founder Garth Brooks, along with Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, former Minnesota Wild centerWes Walz, Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen, and boxer Caleb Truax joined in the festivities. Brooks, who was in the midst of a 10-concert stint in the Twin Cities, visited with patients and families, signed autographs, posed for pictures, and did an interview for the Zone’s in-house TV network.

Dave Overman, President and COO of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, aptly described the importance of a Child Life Zone, saying, "We understand that Child Life is more than playing games and blowing bubbles, it’s about helping kids regain their sense of well-being and returning them to normal childhood routines. Through child life programs, children open up, they smile, they laugh and they heal. So do their parents. There is nothing harder than watching your child deal with illness or injury. The sight of a playful child relieves stress that a parent experiences with a hospital stay. The Child Life Zone has quickly proven to be a happy place, a place for play, smiles and laughter. It’s a place for the community to gather to support our patients and their families."