If you ever happen upon a group of kids having lots of fun alongside a group of supportive Sacramento firefighters, you may be witnessing a Team BRIGHT outing.
Team BRIGHT (Burn Recovery in Groups Healing Together) is a joint initiative of the Firefighters Burn Institute and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California. The Firefighters Burn Institute is a Sacramento-based non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to burn prevention and recovery.
“Team BRIGHT is such a special initiative,” says Michelle O’Hara, therapeutic recreation and child life manager and Team BRIGHT program lead for Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California. “Burn recovery can be a long, difficult process. Our outings help give our young patients a mental break from the hard work of healing, outside the hospital walls, while also teaching them important recovery skills.”
Team BRIGHT organizes monthly group outings for children ages 6 to 21 who are burn survivors. Children are accompanied on outings by Sacramento firefighters associated with the Firefighters Burn Institute, as well as Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California therapeutic recreation and child life staff.
Team BRIGHT participants are recovering from a range of burn injuries that may affect mobility, motor skills, physical appearance, self-confidence and more. Participants are children who are receiving on-going outpatient care for their burn injuries from Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California. Children are referred to Team BRIGHT by their doctors, therapists and/or parents.
Monthly Team BRIGHT outings include but are not limited to activities such as ice-skating, bowling, visiting a zoo or museum, baseball games, cooking classes, rock climbing and yoga.
Fun With A Purpose – Team BRIGHT Outings are designed with the following goals in mind:
- Having Fun. Our outings are fun activities that let kids be kids. They provide a much-needed mental and emotional break from traditional burn therapies and let children make new memories outside any hospital walls.
- Making New Friends. Kids get to meet and socialize with their peers, as well as their adult firefighter chaperones.
- Navigating the World. Whether it’s finding an accessible entrance, keeping track of one’s ticket stub or asking for directions, the world can be more difficult to navigate following a burn injury. Our outings help children practice the mobility, motor and social skills that are key to recovery.
- Building Confidence. Many children find it initially difficult going out in public with visible and non-visible burn injuries. Our outings help children become more comfortable in public with their injuries. Many children find it especially helpful being out with a group of their peers, plus their firefighter buddies!
- Gaining Independence. By design, parents do not accompany their children on Team BRIGHT outings. While Team BRIGHT participants have already attended individualized community-reintegration outings during their hospitalization, a Team BRIGHT outing is likely a child’s first public outing post-injury without the protective eyes of their parents. During Team BRIGHT outings children gain confidence and a sense of independence that is best achieved with support from their peers and Team BRIGHT chaperones. Although participants go on outings without their parents, we make sure they are fully supported, emotionally and physically by trained professionals. The ratio of adults to children on our outings is typically two adults for every child.
Team BRIGHT outings are funded with the generous support of the Firefighters Burn Institute. Our program is managed by staff from both the Firefighters Burn Institute and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California. For more information about Team BRIGHT, or to refer a patient for participation, please contact Michelle O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also gladly accept donations from Sacramento-area businesses who would like to donate towards a group outing.
About The Firefighters Burn Institute
The Firefighters Burn Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded by Sacramento Fire Captain Cliff Haskell and the Sacramento Area Fire Fighters Local 522 in 1973, for the purpose of establishing a local burn treatment facility; providing recovery programs for burn survivors; providing fire and burn prevention through public education; funding education for burn team professionals, firefighters, and burn survivors; and supporting burn treatment and rehabilitation research.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many children do you take on each outing?
Children meet for outings at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California campus in Sacramento. Team BRIGHT escorts children to each outing via accessible van. At this time, we can accommodate up to nine children on each outing.
How can my child participate?
Team BRIGHT participants must be burn survivors. To refer your child for participation, please contact Michelle O’Hara at email@example.com. Your child does not need to be a Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California patient to participate.
I am a physician or physical therapist who works with burn survivors. May I refer patients to your program?
Yes. Please contact Michelle O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What kinds of disabilities do participants have?
Participants have a range of burn injuries that may affect mobility and use of their limbs. We can accommodate participants who require the use of a wheelchair, orthotics, and various other assistive devices. Please contact Michelle O’Hara at email@example.com for more information.
Do families arrange for their own transportation to outings?
Families need to bring their children to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California Sacramento campus at a designated meeting time, the morning of the outing. Children will travel to the outing location via accessible van, and will be assisted by Team BRIGHT chaperones during the entire outing.
Does my child have to be a Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California patient to participate?
No. Participants need not be Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California patients, but they must be burn survivors.
Is there any fee for participating?
No. Families pay nothing to participate, but donations are gladly accepted. Team BRIGHT outings are generously funded by the Firefighters Burn Institute. We also accept donations from area businesses. Please contact Michelle O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.