Thunderbirds Charities recently awarded $15,000 in grant funding to support the direct service delivery of Phoenix Theatre’s expanding Partners That Heal program. Unduplicated in the United States, Partners That Heal is a therapeutic arts program in which specially trained actors perform improvisational care to bring laughter and joy to children and families undergoing traumatic medical diagnoses in healthcare facilities. Incorporating a repertoire of games, songs, puppetry, and instruments, the Partners’ creative services are personalized to the interests of the individual, and are approved for delivery within multiple hospital departments, including individual bedsides and isolation. Hospital staff who have worked with the program report consistent, significantly improved communication directly following a visit, which makes it easier to take vitals, draw blood, administer tests and determine the patient’s level of discomfort.

Partners That Heal provides regular programming at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Banner Thunderbird Children’s Hospital, Ryan House, Banner Cardon’s Children’s Hospital, Arizona Burn Center, and Mayo Clinic, among others. Since its inception in 2008, the program has serviced over 52,000 individuals.

A Child Life Specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital testified: “Partners That Heal allows a patient to be a child, to feel ‘normal’ again, sometimes for the last time. They strip away the shackles of the role of ‘patient,’ and allow these amazing kids to not just exist within the confines of their hospital room and illness, but to really live.”