For many children, regardless of how often they have been to Akron Children’s, there may still be a moment of apprehension and uncertainty as they decide between the Spiderman or My Little Pony sticker during a stop at one of our visitor desks.
Undoubtedly, it’s a scene repeated many times each day. In 2017, more than 70,000 of these sticky little mementos were distributed by our guest attendants — nearly 200 per day. Of course, with a front-row seat to the sticker selection process, our guest attendants were happy to share a few stories.
“I’ve seen stickers used as motivation to get a patient out of bed and walking around. I’ve also seen them used as bribery for appointment-bound little patients with small legs that surprise me with how fast they run!
“Stickers are a welcome distraction to a nervous child who’s overwhelmed in a new environment. They are an ice-breaker for a group of high school students coming to see their classmate who was in a car accident and they don’t quite know what to say.
“They are a token of hope to a new mom who takes super heroes to put on her baby’s crib. She tells me Wonder Woman is for her daughter but I know it’s for her because I can see the pain and fear in her eyes. But I also hear the bravery and strength in her voice when she shares her journey.
“So many of our beloved little “regulars” stop by the desk on the way to a treatment or therapy, or are dealing with another day in a lengthy inpatient stay. For these children, the stickers are part of a positive ritual to help take their minds off the health issue at hand.
“Other children may be on a scavenger hunt, visiting the different desks to find all of the princesses or superheroes. Other times, they just take a long time to pick ‘just the right one.’
“I know a family that’s been here for several months. Every evening, the father stops by my desk on his way home to take a sticker to his daughter who has to stay home because of the visitor restrictions. I know he loves that little girl to pieces and wants her to know she’s not forgotten.
“It’s amazing to me that a sticker can be all these things to all these people and it’s truly heart-warming to be a part of that.”
Sarah Barbosa, guest attendant
“A young boy’s mom asked him if he wanted a sticker and he responded that he did but could only must a shy glance in my direction. He was hesitant to even approach the desk. I smiled and gently encouraged him to pick out whichever one he wanted. The young man still hesitated so I said, ‘My name is SpongeBob, what’s yours?’ The boy laughed a moment and said his name was Mason. He was finally able to approach the desk and pick out a sticker. SpongeBob, of course.”
Jim Mueller, guest attendant
“When kids get a sticker from the desk, they are always thinking of others. They will ask ‘Can I get a sticker for my brother/sister?’ or ‘Can I take a sticker for my sick friend?’ They’ve learned at an early age to think of others. It’s very sweet!
“One time a little boy grabbed a sticker but I could see he was also eyeing a different one with the same character. So I whispered to him, ‘You can have another one if you like!’ He looked at me and said, ‘Mommy can hear you.’ LOL!
“Of course, 10 and 11 year olds think they are too big for stickers! When I ask them if they would like one, they’ll say, ‘No, I’m good’ so I reply ‘I know you are good! How about one for your boyfriend/girlfriend?’ They get so red and embarrassed, especially if mom and dad hear me.
“But by the time they turn 18 or 19, they love to grab a stickers and feel like a kid again! We all need to stay young at heart!”
Peg Klamert, guest attendant.