SEA LIFE magic beamed live to hospital beds

SEA LIFE Grapevine have just completed a SEA LIFE ‘first’ by holding a ‘live stream’ of a special VIP attraction tour with HD close-ups of some amazing animals for Cook Children’s hospital in Dallas, Texas.

The brainchild behind the project was Allyson Cope, Education Specialist and Merlin’s Magic Wand Outreach Coordinator. Allyson is currently studying for her Master’s Degree in Child Life, with the focus on development of hospitalised children and families and wanted to combine her work at Merlin with her studying.

Allyson - who has already coordinated a number of outreach visit taking LEGO and SEA LIFE programs and events to local children’s hospitals - noted that not all children were able to get involved in the hands-on trips and activities, such as those with special needs or children in quarantine areas.

Using funds from Merlin’s Magic Wand children's charity which supports ‘Merlin Magic on Tour’,  Allyson started to think of a way in which she could bring the SEA LIFE experience to those who couldn’t be moved or get to a live demonstration, combining her passion for animals with her passion for working with children who have additional needs.

“In recognising the benefits of animal therapy for hospitalised children, I wanted to take this to a larger scale. Cook Children’s hospital has an incredible media studio where they do live 'TV shows' and broadcasting straight to the TVs in their kids’ hospital rooms. While visiting this hospital at one of our previous SEA LIFE visits, I spoke with their media team and head Child Life member in finding a way to broadcast content from our aquarium to the kids’ rooms! They loved the idea and we starting testing their equipment here at our site.”

Allyson Cope, Education Specialist and Merlin’s Magic Wand Outreach Coordinator

On August 22nd with all of the equipment synced up to the Cook Hospital broadcasting system SEA LIFE Grapevine held their first ever live-streaming event. The SEA LIFE experts in the displays team started with a live turtle feed, moving on to a stingray feed as well as showing those excited viewers the big ocean tank. The children were able to watch this in their rooms while listening to an education host talk about the animals and the feeding process!

One of their most important goals at SEA LIFE Grapevine is to engage the community and get them to care about the animals and habitats that we display, knowing that some people just can’t make it to the aquarium, and work to reach those communities. Working with Cook Children’s allows SEA LIFE Grapevine to bring their aquarium into the rooms of kids that need it the most.

"We are proud to be able to partner with them and honoured that they chose us to show these kids how awesome our animals are. Most of these families have never seen a stingray or shark feed, know what a crocodile skink looks like, or have seen a hatching baby shark and it is our privilege to bring that into their rooms and brighten their day. In addition to the feeds and animal close-ups the Cook Children’s crew also filmed additional content, such as feeding the nursery tank and meeting key ambassador animals. There was so much good content captured that they are planning to put together as a view-anytime package for other children to watch on YouTube."

Krista Huebner, Aquarist SEA LIFE Grapvine

Animal therapy provides beneficial distractions and normalcy for children who are facing stressful situations while hospitalised. This, in turn, can promote healing. SEA LIFE Grapevine plan to continue this partnership with Cook Children’s and the team have been so inspired they are working towards providing the same opportunities with other hospitals in their area.

“At Cook Children’s, we strive to make the hospital experience as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for patients and families,” said . “By teaming up with SEA LIFE Aquarium Grapevine, we were able to bring a live broadcast of sea creatures straight to the TVs in patient rooms. This kind of partnership not only offers unique and educational entertainment for children in our hospital, but it also helps us create an anxiety-free environment for our patients.”

Jill Koss, Director of Family Support Services at Cook Children’s Hosptial