June 14, 2024

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Mario Lemieux Foundation Opens First Austin’s Playroom at UPMC Children’s in Harrisburg

2 min read

 UPMC in Central Pa. and the Mario Lemieux Foundation have opened Austin’s Playroom at UPMC Children’s in Harrisburg, the first in central Pennsylvania. The playroom will provide comfort to patients and siblings as families focus on health and healing. Each Austin’s Playroom has a similar look and activities to keep kids entertained.

“We are delighted to have this one-of-a-kind Austin’s Playroom at UPMC Children’s in Harrisburg, designed specifically to provide a safe, fun and engaging atmosphere for kids while their families focus on health and healing in the face of difficult medical challenges,” said Elizabeth Ritter, president, UPMC Harrisburg. “It’s evident that a considerable amount of thought, planning and research has gone into creating this space and we’re confident that Austin’s Playroom will offer our medical staff added opportunities to engage our young patients in innovative and exciting ways.”

Personally designed by Nathalie Lemieux, the playroom includes furniture and games suitable for young children and teens. It features bright colors throughout space and a variety of wall mounted toys and games. There are gaming systems, iPads, a television, pinball and air hockey for entertainment, interactive elements like an activity table, light table and train table for toddlers as well as safe, comfortable soft seating for all ages.

Mario Lemieux Foundation and UPMC leaders gathered to celebrate the new Austin’s Playroom with a ribbon-cutting event. Guests included Nathalie Lemieux, chair, Austin’s Playrooms, Mario Lemieux Foundation; Nancy Angus, president of the Mario Lemieux Foundation and Elizabeth Ritter, president of UPMC Harrisburg.

“We are so pleased to open our 44th playroom,” said Nathalie Lemieux. “Our goal is to reach as many children and families as possible, and we are excited to bring an Austin’s Playroom to children and families in Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania.”

Austin’s Playrooms was established as a result of Nathalie and Mario Lemieux’s personal experience while caring for their infant son, Austin. In 1996, Austin was born profoundly premature and spent 71 days in neonatal intensive care. While caring for Austin, there was little to engage his sisters, who were both toddlers at the time. Mario and Nathalie realized a need for playrooms and began their plan to establish Austin’s Playrooms.

Learn more about UPMC Children’s in Harrisburg.


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