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Patient Experiences

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Animal Assisted Activities Program

Animal Assisted Activities Program allows patients who are isolated from their own pets, friends, schoolmates, and normal activities to touch part of the outside world. Wagging tails, cold wet noses, and affectionate doggie nudges bring smiles and laughter to hospitalized children.

Dogs of varied breeds are screened by a veterinarian, and are Canine Citizenship Certified. All pet owners are processed through the Volunteer Department and the Child Life Program for an interview and orientation.

Beads of Courage

Beads of Courage is an arts-in-medicine program for children with serious illnesses or who require intensive medical care. Beads are given to patients to honor their courage and to represent their journey through their medical experience.

Beads of Courage is available through Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital for children experiencing or living with the following:

  • A blood disorder, such as sickle cell anemia or hemophilia
  • A burn injury
  • A cancer diagnosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • A kidney disease requiring dialysis
  • Any other chronic condition requiring regular infusions, such as Crohn’s disease

The patient must be treated in an area that staffs a child life specialist. Please refer to our contact page for inquiries.


The EyePlay is an interactive floor space that allows children to run, jump, and play on games projected onto the floor. It is located on the 12th floor and is open to all patients and family members.

Hospital School

School is a normal activity for children and adolescents. When a child is in the hospital, it can interrupt the normal pattern of schooling. The hospital school program can offer a familiar routine. Hospital School also gives children a chance to be creative and productive while maintaining a sense of identity and hope.

Goals of Hospital School

  • Use the hospital stay as a positive event.
  • Develop an academic plan for all school age patients, taking into account their medical condition.
  • Provide instruction that will enable a child to return to class/homebound instruction with little loss of educational standing.
  • Prepare the students for all required tests, including Regent exams.

Hospital School services will commence once approval has been provided to the hospital teacher from the student's home district.

Multicultural Programs and Celebrations

It is important to find joy in the everyday, especially during times of stress. The staff at the children’s hospital can find any reason to celebrate, with events ranging from National Pretzel Day to Halloween. All children’s hospital programming is respectful of our patients’ and families’ diverse backgrounds.

Multisensory Environment

Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital is the first children's hospital in the U.S. to dedicate a space on an acute care unit to be used as a multisensory environment (MSE). This type of room originally was developed in the Netherlands in the 1970's. Today, multisensory rooms are being created all over the world. Typically, such rooms are found in rehab settings, outpatient clinics, and psychiatric facilities, to name a few.

A multisensory environment is a room designed in a way that is calming to the senses and where the pediatric patient can experience visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli. It is furnished with items that are physically comfortable and pleasing to the senses in order to provide a sanctuary from anxiety, stress, and pain. The MSE is an empowering environment for all of our pediatric patients where the patient is offered choices, fostering control and promoting relaxation. The MSE is especially beneficial for patients with autism spectrum disorder and children with a multitude of sensory issues. The MSE is a treatment area and accommodates one pediatric patient at a time. This patient is supervised one on one with a child life specialist. Sessions are usually 20 minutes long depending on the needs of the pediatric patient. Referrals can be made by pediatric staff to the patient’s child life specialist.

Family Resource Center

Designed as a cozy and welcoming space, the Family Resource Center (FRC) represents Upstate’s system-wide commitment of service to its community while providing patients and families with a space that is familiar and enjoyable. FRC services are free and include the lending of fiction and nonfiction books, multimedia resources, and medical texts. While visiting, patients and families are encouraged to enjoy our in-house game console, television, craft area, and business center (complete with computers and printer/fax/scanner).

Find more information, including hours, availability, and updates regarding Covid-19 accommodations, here.

Playroom and Outpatient Play Spaces

Playrooms are located on each of the inpatient units and in the pediatric cancer center. Patients and family members can utilize the spaces during the day to engage in normal, everyday play. Play helps children exert control, work through their emotions, and have fun!

*Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, play spaces may not be open to patients or families. Please contact your child life specialist for more information.