Sophie’s Place: a new channel for fun

Sophie’s Place Broadcast Studio is up and running at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

Sophie's Place Studio

The countdown begins: 3, 2 and 1. “Hey guys, it’s Mat and Brianna, and we are live in Sophie’s Place studio right now.”

The cheerful voices of Brianna Chambers and Mat Vido, media coordinators in the Sophie’s Place Broadcast Studio in Packard Children’s Hospital, are streaming through the hospital’s closed-circuit television channel. The studio kicked off its first live broadcast in October after months of preparation and planning.

The bubbly duo sound much like the personalities on radio stations and podcasts. They chat about how they spent their weekends, how much they love The Incredibles, national cupcake day, the perfect pizza toppings and other important topics — like the difference between French dips and FunDip. The half-hour show is punctuated with music and calls from patients, listening from their rooms, who answer questions posed by the hosts, such as whether it’s appropriate to start playing holiday music before Thanksgiving.

For patients like 10-year-old Morgan Passalacqua, the studio can be a fun distraction.

“The shows and programs really lifted her spirits,” said her mother, Stacey Passalacqua.

“She was going through some tough procedures, and it always put a smile on her face.”

Stacey described that “show time” was a bright spot for her daughter and everyone on the unit, including the nurses and staff.

“Children in the hospital often experience extreme periods of isolation when they are unable to interact with their peers as they would normally at school or in their communities,” said Chambers. “Sophie’s Place offers this social and creative outlet that allows connection and play through technology.”

According to the Sophie’s Place studio manager, Sara Devaney, such connections are important in giving young patients a sense of community while they are in the hospital. During their stay at Packard Children’s, the youngsters can tune in and see kids who look just like them and are also receiving treatment for illness or recovering from injury.

“We had one little girl share her cancer diagnosis and remove her princess tiara to show the audience her bald head,” said Vido. “Other children watched the bravery of the girl, then took the courageous step to participate on-air after previously feeling too self-conscious.”

In addition to the live talk show, the studio offers daily live and recorded shows including game shows and “kids choice” programs. Patients can also come into the studio to participate on-air or call in from their hospital room to interact with the studio team and other patients.

Part of the hospital’s Child Life department, the studio team is committed to finding ways to connect with all patients, ranging from toddlers to teens, and their siblings in ways that are meaningful for each.

“We strive to provide opportunities for all ages here in the studio,” said Vido.

“We have game shows based on Sesame Street or Disney trivia that speak to our youngest patients, and we create opportunities that are just for teens like our radio talk show segments where patients call in to share their thoughts or ideas on a given subject. Teens have also joined as co-hosts for some of our TV segments.”

The team notes that even though it’s a “mass media” platform, the experiences can be quite personal and fulfilling for patients. They recall one boy who came to the studio daily before it had officially opened to film his own projects. He had been in the hospital for many months, and the studio was a place where he thrived. He gained new skills like hosting, editing and interviewing. He inspired the team with new ideas of ways to use the space.

“It is incredibly rewarding to see patients engaged in something, whether it be crafts, singing or just listening to music, and it actually helps them express what they are going through,” said Chambers. “It’s pretty powerful.”

The funding for Sophie’s Place was donated by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and his wife, Barb, through their Forever Young Foundation.

To support the studio please contact or 650-736-8280.

Thanks to the care teams, support staff, volunteer and donor communities who have made our beautiful new building into a place where we can deliver the finest medical care possible and offer hope and healing to our patients and their families.

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