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'THE MAGIC PLAYROOM,' NATION'S FIRST PLAY CENTER FOR CHILDREN WITH PEDIATRIC AIDS, OPENS IN BRONX, N.Y.

 MRS. JEANNE WHITE -- MOTHER OF RYAN WHITE --
 CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS WITH YOUNGEST VICTIMS OF AIDS
 BRONX, N.Y., Dec. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- At a festive holiday celebration today, Pepsi-Cola Company opened "The Magic Playroom," the nation's first Pediatric AIDS playroom in the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center (BMHC) in New York City.
 Open year-round, "The Magic Playroom" provides a safe, happy place for AIDS-afflicted children to play while they receive life-prolonging treatment. The colorful, toy-filled "indoor playground" also serves as a center for
comprehensive counseling and support. While New York City is host to the first Magic Playroom site, design plans are underway to build playrooms in Los Angeles and San Francisco and expand to other cities where the need is most critical.
 The need is growing. By the end of 1992, more than 6,000 children in the U.S. will have AIDS, a number that is increasing 50 percent each year.
 Mrs. Jeanne White, mother of Ryan White -- who died of AIDS in 1990 -- and a crusader in the battle to increase AIDS education and research, joined a group of HIV-positive children and their families at the Playroom's inauguration.
 The Playroom was symbolically completed when one of the children, Johnny, dotted the "i" in Magic on a 14-ft. wall mural. Johnny and the other children were dressed as elves, reindeer and Santa's helpers to celebrate the season, but to also hide their identity. Because of the societal fear and repercussions experienced by Ryan White and all children with the disease, the children had to remain anonymous.
 "These Playrooms are important because they can bring joy and special moments into these children's lives," Mrs. White said. "The hospital is pretty scary for them. The Playroom gives them something positive to look forward to and brings rare moments of lasting joy into the lives of the kids and their families."
 The Magic Playroom provides clinical benefits that improve the quality and length of life of the children according to Dr. Arye Rubinstein, Director of the Center for AIDS Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the world's foremost authority on Pediatric AIDS. Children who are diagnosed HIV-positive live an average of five years.
 "It's critical to give these children an incentive to come to the hospital on a regular basis to receive life-sustaining medical monitoring and treatment," Dr. Rubinstein said. "Children with AIDS who engage in organized play therapy gain clear clinical benefits: improved neurological development and reduced anxiety about their medical treatment."
 Under the guidance of Dr. Rubinstein and other child care experts, the Playrooms are designed to meet the children's special physical and psychological needs. Primary colors in activity areas reinforce color learning and stimulate participation. Soft, muted colors on the walls and floor relay a warm, safe feeling. Thematic play areas focus on building different motor skills. Toys are also adaptable for children whose neuro-development has been delayed.
 Among the features of the Playroom are life-size playhouses, tumble areas, a water play activity and a toy train.
 The Playroom is staffed by trained hospital personnel, who counsel the children's caregivers on issues like nutrition, hygiene and psychological support. They will also provide crisis intervention at critical stages of the disease.
 In New York, Pediatric AIDS is the leading cause of death among Hispanic children and the second leading cause of death among African- American children. Said Dr. Rubinstein, "We're here today to forcefully declare that these children should get the very best care we can give them -- medically, socially and emotionally -- for as long as we have them."
 The Magic Playroom is a community service effort of Pepsi-Cola Company. The Company is headquartered in Somers, NY and is a division of Pepsi-Co, Inc.
 THE MAGIC PLAYROOM
 A Play Center for Pediatric AIDS Patients
 Fulfilling the Need for Play Therapy
 Pediatric AIDS is a growing epidemic, and unfortunately, the
 number of cases is increasing at nearly 50% each year. By
 the end of 1992, there will be an estimated 6,000 Pediatric
 AIDS cases in the U.S. New York and Los Angeles have the
 highest number of reported cases.
 Pediatric AIDS victims are sentenced to a short lifespan,
 painful but necessary life-sustaining treatment, and often
 times, extended hospitalization. Once diagnosed with HIV,
 most children live an average of five years. One subgroup
 of patients lives only two years.
 The Magic Playroom is a permanent play center within the
 Pediatric AIDS treatment hospital. It is an indoor
 playground offering interactive toys, supervised care for
 the children and caregiver counseling.
 The Magic Playroom concept transforms an otherwise sterile
 and scary hospital visit into an oasis for children,
 creating the happy, safe environment for patient play
 therapy. It provides an incentive to come to the hospital,
 assuring that children get needed medical monitoring and
 treatment on a regular basis.
 Pediatric AIDS cases are concentrated in socioeconomically
 disadvantaged families who cannot afford adequate access to
 toys and organized play.
 Children who engage in organized play therapy gain clear
 clinical benefits: improved neurological development and
 reduced anxiety.
 In addition to the Magic Playroom in New York at the Bronx
 Municipal Hospital's Pediatric AIDS Center, others are in
 development at UCLA Medical Center for AIDS Research and
 Education (in Los Angeles) and the University of California,
 San Francisco, Hospital Center. The plan is for further
 expansion to inner-city hospitals with the most acute
 concentration of Pediatric AIDS cases.
 In New York, Pediatric AIDS is the leading cause of death
 among Hispanic children and the second leading cause of
 death among African-American children.
 Magic Playrooms have been developed under the guidance of
 Dr. Arye Rubinstein, Director of the Center for AIDS
 Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr.
 Rubinstein is the world's foremost authority on Pediatric
 AIDS.
 The commitment made by Pepsi and Magic Johnson will
 hopefully encourage others to become aware and make a
 difference. Play therapy is a neglected area of support,
 and psychosocial programs are vastly underfunded. The Magic
 Playroom is a model available for anyone to replicate.
 -0- 12/23/92
 /CONTACT: Gary Hemphill, 914-767-6672, or Amy Sherwood, 914-767-7225, both Pepsi-Cola/


CO: Pepsi-Cola Company ST: New York IN: FOD SU:

PS -- NY021 -- 9511 12/23/92 11:05 EST
COPYRIGHT 1992 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 23, 1992
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