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Shepherd Sorority Supports Therapeutic Play for Young Patients Through Philanthropy

Shepherd Sorority Supports Therapeutic Play for Young Patients Through Philanthropy

Being in the hospital is especially stressful for children, and providing pediatric patients with opportunities for play reduces anxiety for the patients -- and family members. Recognizing this, Winchester Medical Center’s (WMC) Pediatric team has created a safe space for play and recreation that is used by young patients and their families.

The playroom is outfitted with toys for kids of all ages, and for the past four years, WMC staff have applied for – and received—grant funding from Shepherd University’s Tri Sigma sorority through the sorority’s Robbie Page Memorial (RPM) fund that supports the purchase of items that encourage therapeutic play.

Each spring, students from Shepherd University visit WMC to see how their philanthropic gift makes a difference for patients. Recently, Tanya Armstrong, Child Life Coordinator, and Sharon Rigney Dodson, Director of Women & Children’s Services, welcomed the group to the hospital.

Armstrong led the group on a tour of the Pediatric Unit. Sorority members had the chance to see (and even use!) a few of the many items that have been acquired by WMC, thanks to the generous ongoing support of the memorial fund. Armstrong outlined the careful process used to select toys and games appropriate for patient use.“It’s important to remember that every item you see can be wiped down and disinfected,” she noted. “This helps us ensure patient safety, while still providing items that are engaging, stimulating or calming.”

The air hockey table and Play Station 3, purchased with grant funds, are among some of the most beloved items on the unit, enjoyed by both pediatric patients and parents. “Newly admitted patients and family members are always surprised by what we have at our disposal,” continued Armstrong.

During the visit, Shepherd students “tested” the toys and games, and they received words of thanks and encouragement from Dodson. Knowing how stressful college life can be, she shared a few anecdotes about her challenging experiences as a nursing student. She inspired the students with stories about how her persistence and hard work has paid off in a very rewarding career.

Dodson also expressed her thanks for four years of grant funding which has made a big difference in the lives of many pediatric patients. “The items purchased each year really help us treat the entire patient, the entire child – not just the illness,” she concluded.“Thank you!”


The Robbie Page Memorial Fund (RPM) was created in 1951 following the loss of five-year-old Robbie Page, son of the fourth Tri Sigma National President, to bulbar polio. Once the cure for polio was found, the RPM mission shifted to funding therapeutic play, which is proven to help a child adjust to hospital care. Ever since, Tri Sigma chapters around the world have provided funding to organizations that help carry out their mission.

To learn more about the role of philanthropy at Valley Health Winchester Medical Center, visit