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Children's Hospital Awarded Mattel Play Grant to Support Autistic Patients

Posted: 2/8/2017

The Vecta Deluxe Mobile Sensory Stations are designed to make the hospital experience more fun and calming for autistic children.

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart has received a $13,300 grant to purchase special-needs toy stations designed to make the hospital experience more fun and calming for autistic children.

Awarded by Mattel Inc. in partnership with the Children’s Hospital Association, the grant is just one of six awarded to children’s hospitals across the country to support therapeutic and developmental play programs essential to reducing patient stress and anxiety. Sacred Heart is a member of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

“Coming to the hospital can be very stressful for children and parents, and families of autistic children face an additional set of challenges,” said Cat Outzen, director of community relations and children’s programs for The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart. “Children with autism are often extra sensitive to their environments and can become overstimulated and overwhelmed easily. These new mobile sensory stations will help provide a fun and engaging way to distract the children from their medical issues and make the hospital experience more relaxing.”

The grant will be used to purchase three Vecta Deluxe Mobile Sensory Stations, which offer:

  • Stereo that can play a child’s favorite music via radio station, CD or connection to an iPhone, iPad or iPod
  • Interactive bubble column that has a continuous flow of calming bubbles and smooth transitions between vibrant colors, as well as the ability for children to pick the color and control the flow of bubbles
  • Projector to display vibrant images on the walls or ceiling
  • 100 fiber-optic “tails” that cycle through an array of colors and provide a tactile distraction for children to braid or comb with their fingers
  • Aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils and an adjustable fan

These machines will be located in The Children’s Hospital’s pediatric emergency room, outpatient pediatric rehabilitation clinic and inpatient infant/toddler unit, but they can be wheeled anywhere within The Children’s Hospital, should the need arise.

Mattel Play Grants build on the success of the Mattel, Inc. and Mattel Children’s Foundation’s partnership with children’s hospitals that has delivered more than 650,000 toys valued at $6.5 million to patients at children’s hospitals since 2005.

“On behalf of children’s hospitals nationwide, we are grateful to Mattel, Inc. and Mattel Children’s Foundation for their ongoing support,” said Amy Knight, chief operating officer of the Children’s Hospital Association. “The Mattel Play Grants allow children’s hospitals to develop and enhance play that supports the emotional, physical and social well-being of their child patients.”

For more information about Mattel Play Grants visit

The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is a 117-bed facility that serves as the only children’s hospital in Northwest Florida. The Children’s Hospital offers a wide range of services to meet all of a child’s medical needs, from a pediatric emergency room and neonatal intensive care unit to pediatric intensive care, cancer care, rehabilitation and a medical staff of more than 120 board-certified physicians across 29 pediatric specialties. The Children’s Hospital provides quality, compassionate care to children, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. For more information about the services available at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, visit





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