Since they graced the covers of The Saturday Evening Post, the illustrations of Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker have created many of the Christmas holiday season’s de facto images. For many families, the reality of their Christmas celebration doesn’t match the picture-perfect, however. That’s especially true when the family member with the strongest belief in Santa has pressing questions like “how will Santa find me if the hospital has no chimney?”
The good news is that as he readies for Christmas, Santa is taking extra time to visit with children who are hospitalized this season. Instead of just making a quick stop on his whirlwind worldwide delivery route, he’s checking in with some of these very special children from his communications headquarters at the North Pole. Not content to have one of his shopping mall stand-ins do the work, he has personal face-to-face videoconferences with kids who can’t leave the hospital. Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, posted a great video of Santa’s visit from earlier this week.
Connected Santa is a collaboration in which volunteer elves visit hospitals to help make the connection between children and Santa. Using Cisco TelePresence and Jabber technology, the elves conference a child with Santa so they can have the ever-important conversation about good, bad, and wish lists.
Just the other day I tweeted a pictorial response to a colleague to show the benefits of a telepresence-enabled Santa, showing a (very sick) child smiling from ear to ear as he connected directly to Santa over video. In this single image we can see the power of video in any conversation – all doubt removed and with proof in hand, video just made everything real.
Now in its seventh year, the Connected Santa program reaches children in more than 70 hospitals and extends into the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, and Latin America. The holiday season has become more chaotic than meaningful in many ways. And in many ways, technology is a big part of that chaos. But for these kids and their families, technology brings them something they might otherwise miss. (As for the reindeer, they’re happy to rest up for their delivery duties.) Learn more about Santa’s itinerary in the media alert.