Beaumont Hospital lights up pediatric wing


Photo courtesy of Kathleen Grobbel.

Alyssa Hart, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Most would agree that the holiday season should be a time of joy and cheer– filled with quality family time, holiday traditions, and no school. However, these traditions can be harder to maintain when celebrating from a hospital bed.
The Royal Oak Beaumont Children’s Hospital recognized how difficult the holiday season could be for some of the patients, and created new traditions within the hospital that the children could look forward to each year.
Kathleen Grobbel, the Director of Child Life at the hospital, explains how the hospital tackled this issue: “Our Parent Advisory Committee wanted to do something nice for the families during the holiday, and they felt like it was pretty isolating to be here during the holidays,” she said. “We came up with this idea to bring the community out and shine some lights up at the kids, so the kids could look down and see them and feel supported.”

This event started to become an annual tradition, and became known as “Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams.” Every night of December, people would gather at 8 p.m. outside of the children’s hospital and shine lights up at the kids. It started off small, but each year grew bigger as more people started to find out about the event.

The Moonbeams event really brightened the spirits of the children, and continued for three consecutive years. That was until regulations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic put the large gatherings to a screeching halt.

The Pediatric department knew they wanted to keep the tradition alive as best they could since many children looked forward to the lights every night. They did this in three different ways. First, the Beaumont team tackled the issue from the outside.
“We worked with our facilities and landscaping team to add to the holiday lights outside for kids so they’re still looking out onto something,” Grobbel said.

The hospital put more lights around the campus where the children could see from their windows, so that they could still see a beautiful view from their room each December night. This would keep the same feeling of support, without the crowd of people. In addition, the facilities team invested in light projectors, and now offer a nightly light show at 8 p.m. which includes fun moving lights for the kids to see. This increase in holiday lights adds some extra cheer to the kid’s nightly routine.

In addition to the outdoor lights, the team also wanted a way to include the community in this year’s Moonbeams project, despite the fact that they cannot be there physically.

“We also decided to do virtual messages,” Grobbel said. “We really wanted to include the community because the community has been such a huge part of this.”

The hospital started a page where people can upload pictures and videos to wish the children sweet dreams; It’s free, quick, and anybody can do it. All of the pediatric patients and their families have access to the virtual messages, which can hopefully put a smile on their face.

The hospital is even putting together compilations of the virtual messages to show on the TVs in the patient rooms, in case they don’t access it on their own. Many community members who have been getting involved have been very creative with their videos in order to show their support and make the kids feel cared for.

Some special guests have even gotten in on the action.

“We’ve had Santa stop by and send a video, as well as congressman Andy Levin from DC,” Grobbel said.

The virtual messages are a really impactful and easy way to get involved with the project, and the hospital highly encourages people to make a quick video.

The last aspect of this year’s Moonbeams project is meant to give the kids the option to really brighten up their rooms. Since the children can’t go to the playroom because of COVID, they are spending a lot of time in their patient rooms, which can be difficult for some of the children.

“We worked with Children’s Miracle Network, who is our fundraising branch, and now people can go online and donate a Moonbeam,” Grobbel said. “ What that means is they are donating a really great backpack.”

The backpack includes a pillow that lights up, some string lights that they can decorate their room with, a projector that projects stars on the ceiling, glowsticks, and a flashlight that invites them to the Moonbeams event next year. The backpacks have been extremely popular, and every kid who spends the night at the Beaumont Children’s hospital receives one.

“They decorate their room and leave those lights on all night, and it has been really sweet to see,” Grobbel said.

The Moonbeams have helped bring some joy to the holiday season, despite the fact that the usual event couldn’t continue this year. Many members of the community have shown their support by donating a moonbeam, which brings the children so much happiness.

“It’s nice for the kids to get those because they realize it’s not a gift from the hospital, it’s a gift from the community,” Grobbel said. “Somebody in the community thought enough of them to do that.”

Hospital staff have also been really supportive of the recent changes and understand why things had to be different this year.
“They are all really really understanding of the fact that we just couldn’t have those crowds outside,” Grobbel said. “People have been very supportive of our program.”

Despite the changes that had to be made this year, the Moonbeams team was able to adapt and keep the program strong. The outdoor lights, viral messages, and donation of Moonbeams have been able to lift the spirits of the kids staying overnight in the hospital during the holidays.

“We’re happy to take a year off and try to do these different ideas for the kids, and hopefully next year we’ll be back outside,” Grobbel said.

Even though the community couldn’t gather outside like usual, the hospital found a way for them to show their support from a distance. Get involved with this amazing program by visiting to donate a moonbeam or send a virtual message!