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Helping Children Be ‘Brave’ During Treatment


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By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor

December 12, 2013 - Ever wonder how pediatric nurses can work with kids who are sick, and sometimes dying, and not get overwhelmed? The answer: they know how to find joy and have fun where they can! And many go out of their way to share that joyous spirit with their patients.

Several nurses from different children’s hospitals have stepped up over the last couple of years to create and release music videos featuring songs that are about strength, hope and courage. The videos feature patients, family members, nurses and other hospital staff lip-synching and dancing, smiling, laughing, and enjoying themselves.

One of the latest such videos to be released is the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital’s “Brave” video cover of Sara Bareilles’ song. 

Bloemke and Natalie Snyder coordinated the Brave video at U of M Amplatz Children's.
Brittany Bloemke, RN, and Natalie Snyder, RN, coordinated making the "Brave" video on their unit at U of M Amplatz Children's Hospital.

“Our unit originally wanted to do this when we saw Seattle Children’s ‘Stronger’ video,” explained Brittany Bloemke, RN, at U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital, who helped put the video together.  “It is such a great way to give back to the patients and show that we stand behind them and support them. It was a fun project for the kids and a memory for them to look back on while they are going through treatment. And, when they are older, it will be a video snapshot of a hard time they went through in life.”

Since the hospital posted the “Brave” video in early October, it has had nearly 1.1 million views. 

“What made it go viral was our community here in Minneapolis,” stated Natalie Snyder, RN, BSN, co-creator of the video. “It started with our unit sharing it on Facebook and other social media. Then our local news really embraced us.”

As it turned out, a friend of a friend of Bareilles lives in Minnesota and brought the video to the artist’s attention.  Bareilles then tweeted the link to the children’s hospital’s cover of her song.

“What we want people to take away from the video is that these kids go through so much, but that they are so brave. We wanted them to see their strength and drive.  This song was so perfect in describing them,” said Snyder. “We also hope that the video will inspire other kids across the country who have to go through the same thing. I hope that it will help those kids to be brave and know that they can get through it, too.”

During one interview with HLN TV, Bareilles surprised the nurses by joining the interview via video feed.

“It was an indescribable moment for us,” effused Snyder. “We had ambitions just to get these kids out to our community, but to have her recognize the bravery of these children and to be moved by it was inspiring to us.”

“I love working with kids because they are so resilient,” exuded Bloemke. “The unit we are on has oncology, transplant and gastrointestinal patients. As soon as they are able, the kids are riding trikes and doing fun things. Even while undergoing continuous chemo--it doesn’t phase them--they want to play.  Maybe with adults it gets in their mind, but most of these kids are too young to comprehend what is really going on. They seem to say, ‘Okay, I have to be hooked up, but can I go play?’”

“Certainly, there are sad things. Seeing kids in pain breaks your heart, and it is a challenge not to take that home with you,” she continued. “But we try to make everyday life as much fun as possible with Nerf guns, water-filled syringe fights, playing hide and seek, and jumping out to surprise other staff members. One of our kids made a bull’s eye of cancer and shoots it with his Nerf gun--you don’t realize how much it helps them.”

“Our patients teach us so much about life and how to be strong,” Bloemke added. “Seven-year-olds don’t realize how much they inspire 20- and 30-year-olds.” 

Bloemke says one of the greatest joys of her job is when a patient has come through his or her treatment and comes back to visit.

“We see the families at their weakest point and that is hard, but then they visit, so we get to see them at their best moments, too,” she reflected. 

The unit now shows its music video to new patients as an icebreaker. It helps them see the staff as fun and to have a positive attitude that they can make the best of their situation.

“This video project started as a small idea, something to give back to our kids, and our staff supported us in that idea,” commented Snyder. “In the end, it made us feel like we could do anything. We hope that we can inspire other nurses to have fun at their jobs and embrace the inspiring patients we care for every day. It is the reason we go into nursing.”



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