A good day in Pittsburgh – Kinect’ing kids with technology

By Luke Sossi, Enterprise Sales Manager, Mid-Atlantic States District, Microsoft Corporation


Although our office in Pittsburgh is relatively small, we strive to think of ways our team can have a bigger impact in the community with our technology. On April 12th, a team of Pittsburgh Microsoft employees had the privilege to visit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to donate and install Xbox units in each of the 24 rooms that make up the Adolescent Medicine Ward and a Kinect unit in the ward’s lounge.

This initiative came about in early 2010 when I came home from work to meet my wife of 24 years. She told me that she was reading about a local blogger’s effort in obtaining “gaming devices” for the Transplant Ward of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She looked at me and said “What are you going to do about this?”

The next day, I put the call out to the local Microsoft team members to see if they would be willing to join me in this effort. Over the next 60 days, we teamed up with the blogger, Virginia Montanez and the Mario Lemieux Foundation (MLF) and created an initiative officially called “Make Room for Kids.” I was so thrilled that the Microsoft Pittsburgh employees completely embraced this idea and through Microsoft’s employee Give Program, we were able to donate 24 Xbox consoles which were installed in every room of the transplant ward. You can get an idea of the impact that the team made last year by watching this video. As a result of these initial efforts, Make Room for Kids became an official program under the Mario Lemieux Foundation.

Since the local team was so moved by the effort, I began to work with the Mario Lemieux Foundation to determine how we could achieve something even bigger in 2011. Working with Virginia and MLF, we created a video that highlighted our new ambition which was to furnish Xbox units to the Adolescent Medicine Ward of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The kids in this ward are what the hospital calls their “frequent flyers” -- many of them have conditions that require them to frequently come back to the hospital. The video from the Transplant Ward donation was shown at the Microsoft Mid-Atlantic States District meeting in September 2010 right before the kickoff of the company’s Giving Campaign. I was shocked and humbled with the response that we received from the district; we received more than $7,500 through employee donations and Microsoft matching. With this money, we were able to outfit every room on the Adolescent Medicine Ward with an Xbox which were installed on April 12.

After the install was finished, I had the opportunity to visit the Epileptic Ward at the hospital where the medical staff is considering using gaming devices to stimulate brain activity in patients. It was such an incredible moment to see those young patients and I’m happy to announce that because there was money left over from the install, we will be able to return to this unit in the next couple of months to outfit it with Xbox consoles as well.

Microsoft is really dedicated to helping local communities, and I am so thankful that I work for a company which can make donations like this possible. Furthermore, I am so appreciative of all the wonderful employees that really embraced this initiative and are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives.



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