Garth Brooks Unveils New Child Life Zone at Riley at IU Health

    Kids deserve to be kids – especially when they’re undergoing treatment for health issues. That’s the goal behind the brand new Child Life Zone at Riley at IU Health. The hospital was chosen by Garth Brooks and his Teammates for Kids Foundation to host the organization’s 11th—and largest—Child Life Zone in the country. Teammates for Kids Foundation co-founder Garth Brooks arrived in an IndyCar driven by Charlie Kimball, Tuesday, April 7, to visit patients and welcome them into Riley at IU Health’s new Child Life Zone.

    Child Life Zones are state-of-the-art, therapeutic play areas inside hospitals where pediatric patients and their families can play, learn, laugh and relax.

    “What you witness in a Child Life Zone is truly a miracle,” said Brooks. “It’s a place in the hospital where no doctors or needles are allowed, where kids can be kids. Hospitals are traditionally gray and white. But this colorful Child Life Zone shows this is a loving, family-oriented hospital. Hospitals that invest in something like this see what’s important, and that’s the children.”

    Child Life Zones are staffed by child life specialists, certified professionals who help children and their families cope with difficult medical challenges through play, education and self-expression. Child life specialists teach patients about their illness and what to expect during treatment, and they provide support to patients and their families before, during and after procedures.

    “When I first came to the Child Life Zone I didn’t want to go. I was depressed and sad and couldn’t do much because I was paralyzed at the time,” said 12-year-old Chavier Powe, a seventh grader at Chapel Hill Middle School in Indianapolis who was brought to Riley at IU Health’s Child Life Zone earlier this year. “It was amazing how I felt while I was there. They had all these art projects, and I love arts and crafts. I was there every night…I really love the Child Life Zone. I wish it stays here forever.”

    Riley at IU Health’s Child Life Zone is available to both inpatients and outpatients. “In the past, our child life services were provided mostly to patients who have been admitted to the hospital. Now, every patient we serve can use the Riley at IU Health's Child Life Zone,” said Melissa Sexton, the child life special events coordinator for Riley at IU Health.

    Indianapolis joins 10 other locations—Atlanta, Colorado, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Houston, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma City and Phoenix—in hosting a Child Life Zone. Construction completed on the Child Life Zone at IU Health in late 2014. The 4,700-square-foot space is centrally located on the hospital’s main floor and open to pediatric patients accompanied by an adult and with the approval of the patient’s care team.

    “This day—almost three years in the making—is all about the children,” said Dr. Jeff Sperring, president and CEO, Riley at IU Health. “It’s a dream come true for all the kids at Riley at IU Health.”

    The Child Life Zone is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

    Each day, Riley at IU Health will offer unique activities, events, or opportunities to meet special visitors. Scheduled updates will be shared with families via CCTV, the Microsoft Media Wall, in playrooms and outside the Child Life Zone. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Every outpatient or guest will complete a health screening and each inpatient will require approval from their care team in order to participate.


    • Riley at IU Health was chosen by Teammates for Kids Foundation to be the 11th Child Life Zone in the country. Its donors funded this space, the nation’s largest Child Life Zone, so that patients and families have a place to play while undergoing treatment in the hospital.
    • Indianapolis is highlighted throughout the space: take a lap around the motor speedway and cross the “yard of bricks” or admire the Colts and Pacers team displays.
    • Roxy’s Recording Studio in the Child Life Zone offers kids a place to broadcast live TV programs through Riley at IU Health’s CCTV channel –KIDS-TV5. Watch for appearances from special guests, performers, and new live programming featuring Riley Kids.
    • The Microsoft Media wall features the latest Xbox One games and entertainment system. The team from the local Microsoft retail store at Fashion Mall at Keystone will be onsite each week to spend time with the patients and update the systems and games. The TV can also be used to watch broadcast shows, sports or movies.
    • The G.R.E.E.N. Room is truly multi-purpose. Children will always have a staff member with them in this room to help them: G-Grow, R-Relax, E-Energize, E-Explore, N-Nurture.
    • The Craft Kitchen is the center of creativity in the Child Life Zone. Baking, painting and memory making will happen when children come to this space to play and explore. This space will feature special appearances by local culinary guests and visiting artists.
    • The four window bays into this space from the Courtyard let in the natural light. Watch for exciting improvements coming to the Courtyard over the next year or two.
    • A custom-designed ambulance offers children a safe space to explore medical play with a Certified Child Life Specialist. When children don’t want to engage in medical play, there are two unique areas for play: an infant/toddler area with toys and games and a large active play area featuring an air hockey table, foosball table and pool table.

    About Teammates for Kids Foundation:
    In partnership with professional athletes, corporations, foundations, celebrities and individual teammates, Teammates for Kids helps children in the areas of health, education and inner city. They do this in a number of ways, from funding Child Life Zones and supporting Child Life programs in pediatric hospitals, to sports and recreation for inner city children and providing educational opportunities for the underprivileged. Visit the website.

    About Riley at IU Health:
    For more than 85 years, Riley at IU Health has been one of the nation's leading children's hospitals. Each year, Riley at IU Health provides compassionate care, support and comfort to 215,000 inpatients and outpatients from across Indiana, the nation and the world. Part of Indiana University Health, Riley at IU Health enjoys a unique partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine, which gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology.

    Media Contact

    Gene Ford, 317.962.5500