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Gamers Outreach Provides Video Games For Children’s Hospitals

Photo Courtesy Gamers Outreach

Michigan-based Gamers Outreach provides video games for children’s hospitals across the world. It brings top-of-the-line tech and gaming equipment into the medical facilities with the goal of creating a sense of normalcy for the kids who are receiving treatment there.

Founder Zach Wigal was inspired to start the nonprofit after the success of his Gamers for Giving, a gaming tournament that provided players with an opportunity to compete in video games while raising money for charities. Wigal was introduced to the staff members at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who mentioned that their hospital patients needed bedside activities during their stays.

Photo Courtesy Gamers Outreach  

From the beginning, Wigal and Gamers Outreach wanted to ensure that the games were easy to set up, use, and sanitize for all children’s safety. To do so, the organization created GO Karts, portable gaming kiosks that are easy to clean and move from room to room. 

Each cart has modern consoles with up-to-date software to ensure children can access the very latest games through systems such as PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series X.

Each unit has a television, gaming console, controllers, and numerous games. 

To date, Gamers Outreach says it has put GO Karts in 400 hospitals worldwide. Three years ago, Xbox teamed up with Gamers Outreach to provide Xbox series X consoles to 20 hospitals across the United States.

Gamers Outreach also offers the Player 2 program, which is made up of volunteers who play the games with children in the hospital. Volunteers and hospitals are matched up through the Gamers Outreach website.

Photo Courtesy Gamers Outreach 

“As video game enthusiasts, we want to do as much as we can,” Wigal told Buzzfeed.

“We realized that you’ve got to be a gamer to do this job. If we’re not the ones to do it, no one will because we know and believe in the benefits of gaming,” he continued. “It’s fun, and we’re grateful we get to do it and make this difference because we’re obsessed with this problem — this is our life’s work.”

Overall, Wigal believes kids deserve a chance to be themselves while in the hospital. By providing the latest video games and systems, Gamers Outreach lets children explore worlds, connect with people worldwide, express creativity, and simply have fun.

Photo Courtesy Gamers Outreach  

“We had a child who’d been in hospital in Atlanta for about a year, and his family lived two hours away, only able to visit on weekends. Gaming was one of the only activities that could facilitate interaction in a sustained way,” Wigal said to Buzzfeed. “With ‘Minecraft,’ he could play with his school friends and his family. Staff were actively encouraging him to play so he could connect with them regularly.”

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