Friday, January 29, 2016

Radio Lollipop

In the UK there is a is a charitable organization providing care,  comfort entertainment for children in hospitals. It organizes "Volunteer Playmakers" to spend time with children in wards or in special play areas, taking its name from the radio stations it runs in hospitals playing children's programming. Yes radio stations. While their marketing dweebs focus on the one-on-one interactions, we geeks are interested in the whole radio thing. To that end they have three different services they provide

  1. Radio Lollipop Full service: an in-hospital radio station plus volunteers for ward visiting and one-to-one play
  2. Radio Lollipop Lite: a limited broadcast capability plus volunteers for ward visiting and one-to-one play
  3. Radio Lollipop Local: A satellite broadcast service, plus volunteers for ward visiting and one-to-one play

Radio Lollipop was founded in 1978 at Queen Mary's Children's Hospital located in in Surrey, UK. The small hospital housed some 460 children. The station made its first broadcast on 5 May 1979, when the very first Radio Lollipop went on-air.

If you were curious, there is no similar domestic service in the United States. The closest service we have is Companion Radio, a service for Convalescent Hospitals and Retirement Homes in New York and New Jersey. More here. It's a totally worthy service, but it targets the elderly, not children. Radio Lollipop has opened two stations in the US: Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, FL and Texas Children's Hospital, Houston TX.

By comparison they have ten affiliates in the UK, eleven in Australia, and 6 more in New Zealand. According to Lollipop central (I made that phrase up) "...each Radio Lollipop station has its own team of Volunteers who run the radio station, involve children in play activities and use the sounds of radio to stimulate the children´s imaginations."