Patients at Shriners Hospital for Children got a special holiday treat Dec. 2, when the parking lot of the Honolulu hospital was transformed into a winter wonderland complete with arts and crafts, games, snacks and four tons of real snow.
This early Christmas present was the work of Sarah Conque (seen at left building a snowman with Shriners patient Aimo Kasto, 5), an intern in the hospital’s Recreation Therapy Department. As part of her internship, the 23-year-old was required to organize a special event that would help children and enhance their lives using purposeful play.
“I thought it would be a great event for the children, since snowfall is something that many of them have never seen before,” explains Conque, who was born and raised in Lafayette, La. “It is also a great way to get everyone in the holiday spirit and provide a fun therapeutic event for patients and families to attend.”
Conque had three weeks to set everything into motion, as she wanted the snowfall to take place when the greatest number of patients could participate. POP Fishing and Marine crushed giant blocks of ice into snow, and Amazon Construction Co. donated its time and transportation services to the endeavor.
“It was definitely a joint effort,” Conque admits, adding that the event was made possible largely by help from the Shriners’ staff.
“My favorite part of the event was watching the children paint the snow with Kool-Aid in spray bottles. The children absolutely loved it and vocalized how the snow looked like a giant snow cone. I think a couple even tried to taste it,” Conque says with a laugh. “Seeing their smiling faces and hearing their joyous laughter was just wonderful. Their amazement from seeing the snow was priceless.”
Conque’s internship with Shriners was the final requirement she had in obtaining a degree in recreation with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation. A former competitive gymnast and dancer, Conque graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi Dec. 10 and plans to continue her studies in recreation therapy, hopefully one day earning certification as a therapeutic recreation specialist as well as a master’s degree.
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