Hospitals are awful places to be. After all, if you're a patient, chances are that you're not there for anything fun, and the sterile environment does nothing to make the experience any more pleasant. It's worse for kids, even if they're in pediatric wards geared more to their needs. After all, no matter what the surroundings, the prospect of facing surgery or other medical treatments can make patients experience feelings of anxiety and dread. For children, this can be downright scary.

Many hospitals have embraced diversion therapy as a way of counteracting these feelings of anxiety in children who are facing serious surgery. For example, it's not at all uncommon to read about volunteers who bring their pets in to visit with patients. HUMMER is getting in on the act, blending a little bit of advertising with a healthy dose of altruism through a program the truck-builder calls Courageous Kids. It's quite simple: dealers are empowered to donate battery-powered kid-sized HUMMERs to local hospitals, where staff can then use the toys to help make the experience far less intimidating to their youngest patients. Instead of being wheeled to a treatment room or surgery on a gurney, the children can climb into a toy HUMMER and drive themselves. Just like that, a potentially negative experience is transformed into something the young patient can actually look forward to, making it far less stressful for child and parents alike.

Full details on the program are contained in GM's press release pasted after the jump.

[Source: HUMMER]

**PRESS RELEASE**
HUMMER's "Courageous Kids" program delivers child-sized HUMMERs to hospitals nationwide

DETROIT – Hospitals across the United States will soon be adding child-sized, HUMMER battery-operated vehicles to their pediatric units. The vehicles 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," said 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, La., 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 having 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.

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," said 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," said 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 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 man-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.
HUMMER is a division of General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, which employs about 280,000 people globally. The HUMMER product line-up consists of the H2, H2 SUT, H3 Alpha and the H3 X. There are 173 HUMMER dealers nationwide.

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