It’s fair to say that there’s no worse card to be dealt as a child than to be bedridden or sick for prolonged periods of time in the hospital. Yet at a time when children should be playing around on monkey bars, chasing their friends around in a game of tag, and otherwise indulging their physical and creative energies, some are simply not so fortunate to do so.
For Kevin Gatlin, an entrepreneur based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the doldrums of staying in a hospital as a child is something he experienced first-hand during a week-long hospital stay.
“I was in the hospital for about a week and I was bored to death,” Gatlin told WCNC.
A few years ago, when Gatlin visited a friend’s child who was stuck in the hospital, he once again encountered the dullness of a hospital room and immediately thought, “what if this was my son? How would we preoccupy the time?”
“My wife used to utilize the bed with our son, they would play board games they would do homework assignments it was the biggest piece of furniture in the room.”
With that idea in mind, Gatlin began working with his mother, a school teacher, to create Playtime Edventures. The company now sells over fifty interactive games in both bed sheets and sleeping bags designed to help kids “play, learn, sleep and heal,” a product the company website also touts as “the perfect daytime alternative to excessive TV watching, electronic devices, and the perfect structure to get kids to bed.”
Gatlin worked with about six teachers to devise interactive bedsheets, pillowcases and covers that would serve not only a recreational purpose–but educational goals, too.
“We put together bedsheets and slumber bags that cover everything from Geography, Math, Science, Grammar, word find games, over-sized game boards… all on a three-piece set.”
Gatlin entered the business with a passion for children and a deep empathy for children who find themselves in otherwise dreary circumstances. He explained:
“It’s an unfortunate situation that a child is in. It’s great for the child life coordinator and the nurses and doctors – it gives them a tool that they can use before they just poke the kid.”
So far, the sheets are in use at 10 different hospitals nationwide but the number is expected to grow as customers donate their sheets back to their own local hospitals, according to Gatlin.
“Individuals purchase our bedsheets online and they donate them to hospitals across the U.S. … We’ve had our bedsheets purchased for hospitals internationally,” he said.
Gatlin hopes that his sheets will eventually make it to hospitals all around the United States, as well as in summer camps and homes.
And while he has seen quite a bit of success and media coverage thanks to the sheets, the most gratifying aspect of his work has been the knowledge that he’s made a difference in kids’ lives.
“You’re a business and you have to make money. There’s a lot of ups and downs – but when you notice a child utilizing your product for what it’s meant for, that’s priceless.”
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