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Meet the innovative nonprofit that brings video games to children in hospitals

A child lays in a hospital bed playing video games; a Gamers Outreach Go Kart mobile gaming device; a boy rejoices while playing video games in a hospital room

Any emergency room soap opera will paint the same picture: Children who are hospitalized lay still, connected to wires and beeping machines in a dimly-lit room, waiting for the worst. 

While hospitalization can definitely be scary and isolating, these children are still full of life and deserve access to all the things that make childhood so joyful and explorative: Like an afternoon of “Fortnite” or “Animal Crossing.”

Gamers Outreach is a nonprofit that brings top-of-the-line tech and gaming equipment to children in hospitals, restoring a sense of joy and normalcy. 

The GO Kart

To fulfill its mission, the organization created the (aptly named) GO Kart, a portable gaming kiosk that is easy to sanitize, deploy, and develop, so any pediatric hospital staff can set up patients with a place to play. 

Each of these Karts can easily accommodate modern consoles, like the Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 5, so kids can keep up with gaming trends from right where they are. 

A Gamers Outreach GO Kart
Photo courtesy of Gamers Outreach

The newest generation of the GO Karts will be deployed in the U.S. and internationally, and despite inflation, will be the same price as previous iterations of the consoles: $3,500 per unit.

This cost includes the kart, the gaming consoles, and games attached to each unit, as well as ongoing support from Gamers Outreach team members. 

A boy rejoices while playing video games from a hospital bed
Photo courtesy of Gamers Outreach

Gamers Outreach launched its fleet of new units in November 2023 and aims to deploy at least 2,000 GO Karts to children around the world.

Other Gamers Outreach initiatives

The organization also empowers a fleet of video game-loving volunteers with its Player 2 program, who help to distribute and manage games — and hop on to play a few with patients, too.

Gamers Outreach is supported by a number of partners, like Xbox, but it also hosts an annual Gamers For Giving streamathon and LAN (local area network) party every year to fundraise for its programs. 

Four video game streamers smile while holding trophies at the 2023 Gamers for Giving event
Photo courtesy of Gamers Outreach

In 2022, the event passed the $1 million fundraising threshold for the first time, with streams hosted by over 550 streamers.

Last year, for the fundraiser’s 15th anniversary, the Gamers Outreach community raised over $535,000. Using these funds for equipment improvements and new GO Karts, 2023’s Gamers for Giving funds alone will provide an estimated 290,000 gaming experiences

“In the midst of treatment, kids deserve a chance to be themselves,” the Gamers Outreach website reads. “Video games are unique tools that provide children with access to digital playgrounds. Through gaming, kids can explore worlds, connect with others, express creativity, and most importantly — simply have fun.”

A version of this article was originally published in The 2023 Fandom Edition of the Goodnewspaper.

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Header images courtesy of Gamers Outreach

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January 26, 2024 9:15 AM
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