Dallas Children’s Hospital Opens Third Seacrest Studio
By Jessie Fetterling (01/02/2013)

DALLAS — Seacrest Studios, a multimedia broadcast studio, debuted at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas with an initial broadcast on Nov. 14. The media center is part of an entertainment project that the Ryan Seacrest Foundation (RSF) — a nonprofit organization using entertainment and education to inspire today’s children — created to help young patients become more involved in radio, television and new media.

The architect on the project was Houston-based FKP Architects, which has also worked with the foundation on the studio at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is currently constructing one at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Orange, Calif., slated to open early this year.

The more than 600-square-foot center gives children the opportunity to learn, explore and plan interactive games, as well as broadcast entertainment programming in the hospital through Children’s Red Balloon Network. The space also includes a performance stage, which can be used as a venue for celebrities, artists and performers who visit the medical center. Plus, a courtyard is available for visitors to participate in activities happening inside the studio.

“The studio is helping to build more of a community for our patients within the hospital. When patients come to the studio or call to participate, they hear and see other children that are facing similar situations. One of the best examples of this happening is in our hemodialysis unit. Patients come to the hospital for dialysis three times a week. This procedure takes several hours and it is often challenging for parents and staff to continuously come up with activities for these patients to engage in while being treated. Once these patients were introduced to the studio they began calling in to participate in games and other programming,” said Susan Lakey, director of Volunteer Services at Children’s Medical Center. “Not only are these patients finding some entertainment during their treatment, but they are also learning and interacting with other children in a new way. It has become normal business for these patients to come to the studio after their dialysis session to see and participate in live programs.”

The foundation aims to bring positive thoughts to children patients during the healing process. It also invites students from local journalism schools, colleges and universities to participate, providing them with a first-hand opportunity in broadcasting, programming and operating a multimedia center. Although it is not child-run, the youth from the hospital and the community will have a large influence in the type of programming broadcasted and will play a major role in its day-to-day functions.

The Dallas studio operates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It has broadcast programming that includes game shows such as Jeopardy or Bingo, educational shows, in-studio or broadcasted celebrity interviews and music programming. Other activities — crafts, music therapy programs or the use of green screen technology for video broadcast — are also available. Schedules are typically planned with input from the hospital and RSF.

“The studio at Children’s Medical Center allows children the power to make some choices. Some patients choose to enter the studio and simply watch what is happening, some choose to sit at the DJ desk and listen on headphones, some want to interview others in the studio, some request music and some help host a game show. Patients have been given the opportunity to run the camera, run the sound board and even interview members of the Dallas Cowboys,” Lakey said.

Patients who are unable to leave their beds can still participate in the studio activities through televisions and phones located in their rooms. “Through the use of mobile technology such as iPads and tablets, as well as the media team taking the video camera to the patient’s bedside, the children are able to interact and become a part of the broadcast from wherever they are within the hospital,” said Mezio Zangirolami, AIA, LEED AP, senior project designer and vice president at FKP Architects.

Ryan Seacrest, musical star Shealeigh and Dallas-native singer Selena Gomez made appearances at the ribbon cutting. In fact, Selena Gomez was one of the initial influences in bringing the studio to Dallas, asking Seacrest to bring the program to her hometown.

Children’s Medical Center joins Children’s Hospital of Atlanta and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as the third hospital to partner with RSF on operating a studio inside its hospital. The foundation aims to build more studios across the nation and eventually the world.

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