Three-year-old Harmon Jones strutted in his “Black Panther” costume as he prowled the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital hallways and main lobby for treats. After watching a special magic show and playing some tunes led by music therapists, he wanted some Halloween candy.
“My favorite part is the lollipops!” Harmon said. “I like to share them with my mommy and daddy!”
For Heather and Shaw Jones, Harmon’s parents, holidays bring some sense of the normal and community. Last summer, Harmon was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that forms in soft tissue — specifically skeletal muscle tissue or sometimes in hollow organs such as the bladder or uterus.
“We have spent close to 64 weeks in the hospital,” Heather said. “This is all Harmon knows. The Chase Child Life team, our nurses, and the entire campus has come out in droves to make sure Harmon and other patients feel as if they are trick-or-treating in our home neighborhood.”
The Chase Child Life Program organized the celebration at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, ensuring that any children in the hospital who wanted to could experience some Halloween fun.
It was a UCLA community effort, with nearly 65 campus departments and groups dressed up as characters from “Toy Story,” “Inside Out,” “Minions,” “Paw Patrol,” “Harry Potter,” among other outfits.
“It really is so beautiful,” said music therapy intern Amira Gill. “The collective energy felt so electric, and we hope that the patients can feel the difference.”
Chase Child Life staff built a special robot, named TreatBot 2.0, with an IPad that volunteers pushed around to video chat with the children who were limited to their beds for medical reasons. Patients “trick-or-treated,” wearing costumes provided by the Spirit Halloween Store, which has been a partner to the Chase Child Life program since 2007. The store has contributed costumes for pediatric patients and their families, and has donated more than $1 million to support Chase Child Life programs and staff.
“Coping and healing inside any hospital takes a community. We are thankful for all UCLA staff and students who took time out of their day to build a local neighborhood for these families,” said Kelli Carroll, director of the Chase Child Life Program.