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Hummer 'Courageous Kids' program delivers child-sized Hummers to hospitals nationwide

Published Apr 24th 2007, 3:52pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Hummer_child_hospital Here's a cool thing that came across my desktop this morning: Many hospitals across the United States will soon be adding child-sized, battery-operated Hummer vehicles to their pediatric units. The subcompact suvs are being donated by Hummer dealerships under a program called "Courageous Kids." The Hummers are used by young patients who may "drive" themselves into surgery or for other medical procedures. The goal of Courageous Kids is to help reduce the anxiety that frightened children often experience when undergoing medical treatment.

"We believe this mode of transportation definitely beats a gurney ride and can help take young patients' minds off their fears," says Martin Walsh, Hummer general manager. To date, hospitals in Michigan, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Washington, and Texas have begun replacing gurney rides with self-driven Hummer rides in style.

Last year, the General Motors plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the Hummer H3 is built, came up with the idea and made the first donation of two ride-on Hummers to the local Sutton Children's Hospital. It was the suggestion of GM Shreveport employee David Burroughs, an environmental engineer. Burroughs was familiar with diversion therapy, a strategy often used at children's hospitals. With diversion therapy, medical professionals and volunteers often bring dogs and other pets to visit patients, as the animals have a known therapeutic effect. Additionally, some hospitals use rides in wagons and golf carts to help distract children from worries about their medical procedures. "So I thought why not do the same thing with Hummers?" explains Burroughs.

Apparently, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. According to the Sutton hospital's medical staff, even the most anxious children forgot about their fear of surgery thanks to the excitement of driving a Hummer to their procedure. "Local surgeons have told us that some kids even require less anesthesia when they ride into surgery in the Hummers," says Burroughs. "It's a rather remarkable phenomenon."

Some medical workers and parents have found a ride in the Hummer toy is a great motivator during recovery as well. "I worked with one patient who used to take thirty minutes to swallow his medications," says Amanda Hays, Child Life manager at the Louisiana State University Health Services facility. "Now he takes them in about five minutes so that he can ride!"

Walsh says the results of a few local donations convinced Hummer to make the program available to dealerships around the U.S. "Once we heard about these favorable results we knew we needed to quickly expand the program so children's hospitals all around the country could use our toys to put smiles on the faces of their young patients and help lessen the stress and anxiety of their parents, too," noted Walsh. He expects many dealerships around the U.S. will soon be making the mini-Hummer donations to their local hospitals.

Hummer has a history of charitable giving, including the following:
* In 2005 Hummer and the GM Foundation announced they would provide the American Red Cross with 72 Hummer vehicles and $600,000 in cash over six years. The first vehicles were deployed in the Gulf States in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Red Cross Hummers were also instrumental in responding to floods in Orange County, NY and wildfires in San Bernardino County, CA last year.

* Hummer provided the state of Louisiana with 12 H3's, at their request, to aid local and state agency disaster response organizations in 2005 and 2006.

* Hummer is the only vehicle manufacturer to support the Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) -- a non-profit organization committed to maintaining the world-famous Rubicon Trail in California. Hummer has donated funds, materials, and staff hours to the group's trail restoration projects.

* Hummer is a multi-year sponsor of the After-School All-Stars. Founded by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1992, After-School All-Stars strives to keep kids safe and to help them achieve in school and in life. ASAS provides high quality, comprehensive after-school programs that emphasize pro-social activities, academic excellence, and enrichment opportunities. Nationwide, more than 60,000 high-risk youth benefit from these programs in 13 U.S. cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, and South Florida.

* Since 2003, Hummer has provided a $100,000 annual endowment to Tread Lightly! as part of the Hummer Helps program. The annual endowment is administered as a grant-giving initiative to select outdoor enthusiast clubs who are Tread Lightly! members to sustain the lands where outdoor enthusiasts enjoy off-highway activities.

So, the $64,000 question remains: Can I have one to drive to my next dentist's visit?
Brandy Schaffels, Contributing Editor

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