Children's Specialized Hospital Hosted Prom for Patients

June 09, 2015

New Brunswick, NJ: It was a magical night at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, as over 50 patients, from babies to 21-year olds, promenaded through a balloon arch, sang, danced, and enjoyed a special dinner.  The boys wore jackets and ties, the girls wore dresses, and everybody wore a big smile.  Children’s Specialized Hospital treats children affected by brain injury, spinal cord injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays, and life-changing illnesses.

“When children are in the hospital, they often miss out on important events,” said Tara Helfrich, a child life specialist at PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital.  “We want to normalize the hospital environment and give the kids a fun experience they can’t otherwise have.”

This is the third prom organized by the members of the Child Life and Recreational Therapy departments at Children’s Specialized.  Therapists worked getting ready for the event into their treatment sessions, such as helping patients learn how to dress in their donated formalwear.  Even children who were unable to attend the dance had an opportunity to dress up and have a picture taken at their bedside.  As the big night approached, patients who were interested got help with hair and make-up from volunteer stylists using products donated by L’Oréal USA.

Roughly 30 enthusiastic volunteers from Johnson & Johnson, Baskets of Hope and Novartis took charge of event decorations, including tissue paper hanging jelly fish; sea shell decorations, fish, sharks and mermaids galore as well as nautical table centerpieces.  Baskets of Hope also donated many dresses for the patients to wear. 

At the party, each patient was introduced and made a grand entrance to cheers from staff. Patients, families, and staff then dined before hitting the dance floor.  DJ Frank Loschiavo of Prime Time Events volunteered his time to spin the tunes and East Coast Photo Booths donated and operated a photo booth!  Photographers Tom Schoenknecht and Tom Lokos captured all of the excitement on film and printed portraits for the patients to have as keepsakes.  And no prom is complete without flowers, which were made into corsages and boutonnieres by volunteers. 

Children’s Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges — from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. At thirteen different New Jersey locations, our pediatric specialists partner with families to make our many innovative therapies and medical treatments more personalized and children can achieve more of their goals. 

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