What We Do

Shine On! Connections

Children in hospital are experiencing decreased communication and increased stress due to social isolation from COVID-19 restrictions. Even with our three programs still in operation, it is clear MORE support is needed.

So in June 2020 Shine On! Kids launched an “emergency” program called Shine On! Connections.

What’s happening in hospitals right now in Japan due to COVID-19 infection control measures?

  • Weekend home visits suspended
  • Sibling visits suspended
  • Two- to three-hour limit on parental visits
  • Suspension of in-hospital schooling
  • Suspension of in-hospital volunteer activities, activities by volunteers, and others

Impact on children in hospital

  • Increased emotional instability due to lack of parental care
  • Loss of learning and play opportunities
  • Minimal opportunities for communication with non-medical staff
  • Increased burden per medical staff member due to infection prevention measures

Hospitals and parents are deeply concerned about the impact on inpatient growth and development during this time.


To establish a virtual “psychological care” program for hospitalized children

How it works

Distribute communication technology and OriHime robots to 20 hospitals nationwide along with bespoke, engaging program content created in collaboration with field specialists.


Hospitals select from a menu of activities and book live sessions:

Virtual Facility Dog Visits with Hospital Facility Dogs-in-Training 

  • Children read stories to dogs-in-training
  • English and dog training experience: interacting with and giving commands in English to dogs-in-training

English Cross-Cultural Communication Support 

  • Bilingual, international high school students with hospital volunteer experience join Eric and others in a variety of fun communication activities designed to be stimulating, age-appropriate, and focused on developing language and creative skills

Music Learning      

  • Unique, hands-on creative music workshops


  • Introduce guest authors and professional musicians, picture book reading

Family Support Activities 

  • When requested by hospital’s palliative care team, tablets and robots will be loaned to families

Technology / Science Support

  • Remote visits to locations such as museums and aquariums and work experience program with the OriHime robot

Integrated Learning Support to Foster Communication Skills Based on Math and Science

  • Science and mathematics support GEMS (University of California Exploratory Services) collaborative project with instructors
  • Lego project

Music Science Support

  • A project commissioned by Isao Tomita Research Group (virtual space experience using the latest video and surround system)

Technology Education Support 

  • A project commissioned by TanQ Quest (tanQ): inquiry-based educational correspondence focusing on group workshops using board games to foster technology and collaboration skills 

Why use the OriHime robot?

  • Supported by hospital psychologists and medical staff
  • Easy to clean and comply with infection control policies
  • Fun for kids to communicate with a robot
  • Children can control the robot with an iPad, which gives a sense of empowerment (in contrast with the many things patients cannot control)
  • Lays the foundation for technology learning from preschool age

How to Support Us

This virtual psychological support program, while created in response to COVID-19, will become one of Shine On! Kids’ standard offerings. Many of our most sick children (who are in facilities such as clean rooms) are very isolated from their families and friends even in non-COVID times. Shine On! Connections is a natural extension of the unique and powerful support we have always offered children and families. Therefore, your support is crucial!

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For any inquiries regarding this program, please contact Shine On! Kids: info@sokids.org.

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