Starlight representative, Mena Suvari, Rita Goshert and Child Life intern stand with Starlight activity kits in front of hospital lobby wall.

In the world of pediatric health care, moments of joy and distraction can make a world of difference for children facing illness or injury. Recognizing this, the Starlight Children’s Foundation has made it their mission to ensuring that hospitals are not only a place of healing, but also spaces where kids can find comfort, laughter, and inspiration.

At the heart of the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach and the Starlight Children’s Foundation beats a vibrant, shared ambition: to make hospitals easier for kids to be in.

For many young patients, being hospitalized can be a scary and lonely experience, separated from family and friends in an unfamiliar place. Having to undergo painful medical treatments and procedures exacerbates stress and anxiety in an already taxing situation.

Together, through their innovative programs and initiatives, they strive to alleviate the boredom, anxiety, and discomfit that often accompany a hospital stay for young patients. These vital services ease the boredom, distract from the endless pokes or pains, and inspire imagination to help kids feel better.

One recent initiative that exemplifies the Child Life Program and Starlight Children’s Foundation’s commitment to brightening the lives of hospitalized children is their partnership with actress Mena Suvari to donate patient activity kits at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital. These kits are carefully curated to provide children with a source of joy, distraction, and creativity during their time in the hospital.

Each activity kit contains various items designed to engage and entertain young patients. The kits included a stuffed animal distraction toy, activity and coloring books, colored pencils, and other sensory items to spark imagination, providing a welcoming diversion from the challenges of being in a medical setting.

In addition to the activity book and sensory toys, each tote bag included a personalized note – messages of encouragement – to remind children that they are not alone in their journey. These heartfelt messages were collected by the compassionate staff at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, ensuring a personal touch to every kit. Words of encouragement mentioned to patients included: “You’re braver than you know and stronger than you think,” “You’re surrounded by a team of people who care about you and are here to help,” and “You are so amazing – you got this!”

“The impact of these activity kits extends far beyond entertainment,” says Rita Goshert, director, Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “For children facing long hospital stays, these kits can provide a much-needed sense of normalcy and empowerment. They offer a tangible expression of care and compassion, helping children to feel valued and supported during a challenging time in their lives.”

By fostering moments of joy, creativity, and connection, the Starlight Children’s Foundation helps to create a healing environment that nurtures both the body and the spirit. Through their unwavering generosity, they make a profound difference in the lives of countless young patients, bringing comfort, joy, and inspiration when it is needed most.

Mena Suvari plays with 13-year-old Isabel who has made an art collection crafted from moldable sand.
Mena Suvari delivers Starlight activity kit and plays with Isabel, a 13-year-old Miller Children’s & Women’s Hematology/Oncology patient. Isabel proudly shares her imaginative art collection crafted from moldable sand.




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