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The one hundred honoree: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Hospital Outreach Program

Profile in Medicine

The one hundred honoree: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Hospital Outreach Program

Mass General Giving

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was founded in 1988 by famed actor and philanthropist Paul Newman with one simple goal: that every child, no matter their illness, could experience the transformational spirit and friendships that go hand in hand with summer camp. The Hospital Outreach Program (HOP), established in 2002, brings the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp’s unique spirit to healthcare institutions, creating opportunities for patients to enjoy special activities outside the day-to-day routine of a hospital stay.

HOP specialists bring fun, magic and positive energy through games and creative crafts to promote connection and offer a sense of choice and control — when often there is very little choice and control for a child in the hospital. The specialists are clearly full of creativity and talent, but more importantly, they serve as incredible role models, offering compassionate care and a listening ear to both children and adults,” shares Heather Peach, a child life specialist at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) Cancer Center.

Having this program available to pediatric patients and families enriches the family’s hospital experience; it makes a scary place of uncertainty one of creativity and fun. This program is an asset to the facilities it serves and is a break from reality for those patients and families who participate,” says Kimberly Murnane, one of the group’s many nominators.

The program currently serves 33 medical centers in New England, New York City and Philadelphia. In 2013, HOP specialists conducted more than 28,000 visits, and more than 7,000 were with children and families in the Boston area including the MGHfC Cancer Center, The Jimmy Fund Clinic, Boston Children’s Hospital and Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.