Winter Olympics comes to UI Children's Hospital - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Winter Olympics comes to UI Children's Hospital

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Opening ceremony music queued and paper torches in hand, the Winter Olympics was in full swing at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital Tuesday.

Child life specialists hosted the event for patients. Each kid picked which country they wanted to represent and made a torch before taking part in the opening ceremonial march.

"With this being the Winter Olympics, we thought it would be really fun to bring it to the kids in the hospital but also to let it them be participants," Kathy Whiteside, child life events specialist, said.

Before competing in individual games, the patients had a first-hand lesson in what competing in the Olympics is like from two-time Olympian bobsledder, Jean Prahm. Prahm talked about her experiences competing and let kids try on her USA helmet.

After that, the kids were ready to try their hands in events like curling, skiing, and javelin tossing. 

Neave Ruiz said her son, Giovanni, looks forward to the child life events everyday.

"He is very active at home, so it's good to see him out and doing stuff here instead of just being up in his room all day," Ruiz said. "I think it cheers him up a lot and makes him not miss home as much."

One of the patients partaking in the games was Harper Stribe. Stribe has been a patient at the hospital for several months to get a cancerous tumor in her cheek treated. Harper's mother, Nicole, said the event turned her mood around.

"It's great because days like today when she's having treatment, you're not quite sure how she's going to feel. This morning, she didn't feel so great but we walked downstairs and saw all of this going on and her mood immediately changes," Nicole Stribe said.

Before long, it was time for closing ceremonies and each Olympian was given their own medal but, most importantly, a break.

"Somebody to play with is exactly what you need. Mom gets kind of boring just hanging out the two of us so, if she can play with other people and do some games and crafts, takes her mind off some of the other things she has to endure while here," Stribe said.

Whiteside said the most important thing with child patients is that they are kids first, and that's what they strive to achieve with the child life events and to help them create some positive memories during their stay.

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