Once a semester, the University of Indianapolis women’s lacrosse team visits Riley Children’s Hospital. This has been a tradition for the team since the lacrosse program started, according to Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach Erin Abbott. Their first visit to the hospital was a success, Abbott said, so they continued scheduling.
During these visits, the team spends time with the kids playing games, or doing a variety of other activities, according to senior goalkeeper Irene Carlquist. The team plays with the children and their families in the Indiana University Health Child Life Zone, which allows children to spend time outside of their room in the hospital.
On their most recent visit on Sept. 5, the team was able to interact with the kids in a new way. They interacted with the children virtually through televisions in the children’s’ rooms. The team stayed in the TV studio at the hospital and was able to broadcast through a closed circuit straight to the children’s’ TVs.
The team members hosted bingo and mix-and-match virtually, and the children were able to call in to the live broadcast with the team when they had an answer. Even though they were not able to meet in the Child Life Zone, this allowed them to keep the experience of playing with the kids, according to Abbott.
“It was neat to hear their expressions,” Abbott said. “You could still hear how they were feeling over the phone. They were getting excited about the little things and I think it just kind of helped them get through their day.”
The children love when the team comes and they get to meet new people, said Carlquist. Some of the kids are shy at first, according to Carlquist, but as the team keeps going back they make more connections.
“I think it’s great just to get the girls out of the school and into the community,” Abbott said. “To put them into the community and show them where people are struggling, I think it makes them better people. It is something that the girls look forward to. They love giving back. It is just neat to watch them interact and change people’s day and put smiles on other people’s faces.”
This experience gave the team an opportunity to bond not only with the children but with also with each other, according to Abbott. Getting to interact in an environment, other than playing lacrosse allowed the team to bond on an emotional level instead of just the physical level of the sport, and they used this experience to grow together Abbot said.
“[This service] also helps us bond in the sense that you get that good feeling of doing something for others,” Carlquist said. “When you share that feeling with one another, you really kind of have the strength of that feeling of getting to perform the act of giving together.”