“I like it! There's nothing bad about it… It’s always different so it’s never boring. Terri was my favorite actor, she was very funny. It’s good for the little children to do something other than watch TV.”
- A 12 year old Only Make Believe Participant
“I can’t wait to go back to my school to tell my drama teacher. That was fun. I needed some laughter.”
- A 10 year old Only Make Believe Participant
“You could be having the worst day ever and when OMB comes it just changes. You're happy again. You forget about everything.”
- A 9 year old Only Make Believe Participant
“After each play, I feel like a new person who’s ready to face life. This show helps me gain my sense of humor again.”
- A parent of a patient
“This is the first time he has smiled…since his stay.”
- A parent of a patient
“I was not sure at first if my child would engage with the group, he typically likes to do his own thing. They Wowed me! My child got up and engaged with them. It was amazing to see.”
– Child Care Specialist at Jill's House, Vienna, VA
“It’s an hour for kids to be kids, instead of survivors. It’s a chance for them to “shine” and “get the spotlight” and to be “stars”.”
– Michal Ziolkyahu, Drama Therapist at Brookdale University Hospital, Brooklyn
“One of our patients is a three year old girl with sickle cell disease. Since she was a baby, she has been hospitalized numerous times for painful crises. For a while, she had become quite fearful and withdrawn whenever she came to the hospital. Many doctors and nurses began to think she might be nonverbal or have speech delays, as she would rarely speak in the presence of medical staff.
With Child Life interventions and a lot of patience, I was gradually able to develop a positive relationship with her and she slowly became more outgoing and playful. During a recent admission, she whispered to me that she wanted to go to the "party." Apparently, she had been telling other staff and family members that she wanted to go back to "that fun party." I asked her what she meant, but she just said, "You know, the party! When can we go back to the party?" I asked her mother, thinking she might be able to explain it, but she was unsure of what she was talking about, too.
Eventually, I convinced her to give me more details about this "party." She told me that there were special friends who came to visit and they let the kids get dressed up in cool clothes from a big box and then they played games and sang songs. It turns out she was referring to the last time when she was admitted to the hospital (several months before) and Only Make Believe had come to do a show in the playroom. I found pictures of her watching OMB and showed her. Her face lit up and she confirmed that this was the party she was asking about.
For a child who previously had such severe stranger anxiety and fear of the hospital, OMB clearly had a huge positive impact. Several months after seeing OMB while hospitalized, she was still talking about the "fun party" and saying she couldn't wait to go back. Moments like this really demonstrate to me what an amazing impact OMB has on pediatric patients. I cannot thank OMB enough for all that they have done for my patients and their families!"”
– Janis Atty, Child Life Specialist, Brookdale University Hospital, Brooklyn
“Children and parents need to be exposed to positive experiences in their lives and I think OMB brought them laughter and relaxation. At the same time children learned that there is always hope when finding solutions to problems.”
– Hilda Salsado, Supervising Psychologist, Lincoln Hospital
“All of the NAC kids have a great amount of stress in their young lives due to their life circumstances. By participating in Only Make Believe workshops, the children are allowed to take a break and escape from their troubles. Only Make Believe also enabled the kids to explore their creativity on new levels. Through example and encouragement the children were put at ease and enjoy themselves. The program provided an interesting opportunity for the children to get away from the social and medical issues that may loom over them in their daily lives. The use of “make believe” brings the children into the narrative so that they are completely immersed in the performance.”
– Stephanie Gardner, Recreation Case Aide at New Alternatives for Children, Manhattan
“We always have a crowd of parents and staff outside the playroom, looking in to see what is going on and I think it is so great for them to see the kids laughing, having fun and participating – acting like kids and not just patients. In the same vein it gives our patients time away from procedures and worries of the hospital, to relax and interact with the other kids.”
– Lindsay Davis MS, CCLS, Child Life Department at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx
“I think this organization and what it’s doing is giving the kids some place to choose or play, the power of play, and what the power of what theatre is. The idea of transforming is so cathartic and therapeutic. It’s truly a special thing to be a part of.”
- Josh Lucas, Actor
“Make believe takes you out of where you are. Escapism any way is attractive, but if you’re in a place, like a hospital, you want to mentally get out of, it’s incredibly important. Kids have active imaginations any way, and that can get stifled in hospitals.”
- John Oliver, Comedian/Actor
“I am a great believer in the power of storytelling. It’s the reason I love doing what I do. I feel like my role is in that world of storytelling, performing stories, and it has great impact. The simple idea that the imagination heals is profound and simple and effective. And to practice it is, to me, a sort of genius. It moves me.”
- Jude Law, Actor
"Three cheers for everyone at Only Make Believe! Can you imagine what a difference this work must make to the life of a child ill in hospital. What a wonderful company to support and encourage.
- Sir Mark Rylance, Actor
"My friend Dena Hammerstein thought up this idea to take performers into hospitals and put on a show to cheer up kids with chronic illnesses. The miracle is that nurses and doctors say not only are the kids’ lives improved for that moment, but it’s an aid to their recovery. I was with Dena in a hospital in New York once, and there was a little boy in a wheelchair and he was rather out of it. There was a character [from Only Make Believe] pulling funny faces and dancing around, and they popped a hat on the boy’s head, and he made a noise. The nurses gasped, and the mother started crying — because that boy hadn’t made a sound for six months. Only Make Believe is an idea that should be franchised across the world."
Sir Ian McKellen, Actor