PORTLAND – There could soon be more Minecraft battles and Roblox adventures, plus less stress and anxiety for patients at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. 

The Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation and the children’s hospital announced Friday that the hospital is receiving a Dunkin’ Connecting Joy grant for $87,642 from the Foundation. BBCH is one of the first grant recipients from the foundation’s new Dunkin’ Connecting Joy program that aims to launch or enhance gaming programs and technology at hospitals with pediatric patients.  

The BBCH grant will be funded over three years and have an immediate impact by providing the hospital resources to add structure and staff support to its current gaming options in the child life program. 

  • BBCH will hire a dedicated Gaming & Technology Assistant as part of its child life care team. 
  • The Gaming & Technology Assistant will ensure that BBCH has fully functioning equipment, connectivity, and games for patient use. 
  • The Gaming & Technology Assistant will receive information on patients, offer gaming play and interventions, and create a safe network for patients to game and experience community. 

The new child life staff member will engage patients in technology programming that supports socialization, normalizes the hospital environment, and helps to distract a patient during their hospital stay.  

“A hospital is a place full of new and sometimes scary experiences for children,” said Sharon Granville, The John D. Bancroft, M.D., child life program manager at BBCH. “The Child Life Program focuses on ensuring children and their families understand their healthcare experiences and find opportunities for play, creativity, and joy. Children are often surprised that while in the hospital we celebrate birthdays, holidays, and milestones. It’s important for children to experience joy and to not feel afraid while getting better.” 

The Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation committed $1 million in Dunkin’ Connecting Joy grants to help bring gaming experiences to thousands of pediatric patients nationwide. Grants can be used to hire staff, purchase gaming systems, fund connectivity, or offer virtual programming to connect children and teens with other patients in other hospitals.  

Maine Dunkin’ franchisees have given more than $500,000 to The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital since 2012 mainly through the annual Dunkin’ Iced Coffee Day fundraiser, which takes place on May 25 this year. On Friday a Dunkin’ sampling truck provided free small iced coffees and Munchkins to more than 1,000 Maine Medical Center employees in Portland and Scarborough.