The Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington has a Recreational Therapy Department (RTD). The purpose of the RTD is to help patients and their families cope with the hospital experience. The principles and practice of recreational therapy utilize play and leisure in the treatment and recovery process. Through play, children develop skills, discover themselves and learn to relate to their world. Three play sessions daily are held for ages 0 – 11 years and older patients, ages 12-21 – the Teen Zone.
Lane Ballard is a manufacturing engineer during the week with the Boeing Company; however, he has committed his Sundays to the Children’s Hospital. Ballard volunteers in the RTD where he is used as an active provider of normalizing play .He plays with patients and their sibling in the playroom or works with them with arts and crafts. Those youngsters who are not mobile receive a special visit from Ballard in their rooms. Ballard also commits his Wednesday evenings to the hospital’s Teen Zone program. He gets a list of all the patients between the ages of 12 and 21 and visits each one. Ballard can be seen getting a favorite movie or game for them to use in their rooms or “hanging” out in the Teen Zone with their youths.
Ballard has a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of children, especially those who are ill. Because of this, he also spends his vacation time at the Stanley Stamm Children’s Camp near Enumclaw. This is a camp for children who have been patients at Children’s Hospital, but they have medical needs that make it impossible for them to participate in regular camp programs. Ballard handles the camp’s sports and recreations programs as well as assisting in providing round-the-clock care by helping dispense medication; feed children and helping the youth meet personal hygiene needs.
FareStart is a nonprofit organization that is focused on training homeless men and women for careers in the restaurant business. This great step will lead them to self-sufficiency. Each week, FareStart has a guest chef night with local restaurants providing a chef who works with the trainees to prepare a meal. The volunteers run the “customer” side of the restaurant. They wait tales and set guests. Though Ballard is not proficient in waiting tables, he still gives of his time for the program and donates all the tips towards FareStart.
Ballard’s efficiency as a volunteer has resulted in the Children’s Hospital asking new volunteers to come in during his shift. They then ask Ballard to help orient and train the other adults. He teaches them the importance of punctuality, self-confidence, compassion and trust as it relates to the patients they will serve.
Ballard has also participated in Boeing’ s World of Motion where he taught 4th grader Science during an eight-week period. He has also volunteered in the Special Olympics Summer Games.