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Cisco Employee Elves Bring Santa And Cheer to Hospitalized Children

Cisco's elves on telepresence.

Cisco’s elves on telepresence.

When a serious illness hits it hits hard, everything stalls, family life goes on hold. Routine is thrown in all directions. Calendars are no longer about days of the week and holidays, but rather they become consumed with appointments, treatment, surgery and long stays in hospital. Oftentimes seriously ill children must limit their interactions with general public by staying in an isolation ward.

It’s especially hard during the holidays, with everything going on outside, like holiday festivities and visits to Santa. During these times the tiniest of distractions can help.

Santa knows how important it is to fit everyone in, and he enlisted Cisco technology (and Cisco employees) to help. Through Cisco’s Telepresence and video collaboration technology children get one-on-one time over a live link chat with Santa in the North Pole, we call this Connected Santa. Children interact with Santa, they express their wishes, ask about Rudolf and the other reindeer, ask how the very busy Elves are getting on. It’s a real connection, a magical occasion, I mean, how does Santa know about their pets’ names or the funny stuff they got up to yesterday? There’s something about the reaction of wonder and amazement from the children as they look to their parents in awe asking “Mom, how did Santa know that?” Magic isn’t it!

Connected Santa Each year across 13 hospitals in Ireland and the UK around 350 children get to connect with Santa. An army of Cisco Elves get behind Santa & Mrs. Claus to help with the technology, organise toys, parties and getting Santa’s grotto ready. The Cisco Elves work from November all the way to December to volunteer with one goal in mind. That is to put a smile on the faces of these kids, their parents, and the staff at the hospitals.

This year was no different. The Cisco elves have made their rounds and helped Santa bring his jolly-ness to more children. They’ve helped in hospitals in Cardiff, Derby, Glasgow, Bristol and more. The kids have had their fun, and so have we. Here’s just a few of the things they asked for. (We want to protect their privacy, so only their initials are used.)

M. is three years old, and after having made a video singing “Let it Go” with her nurses, of course she wants anything having to do with Frozen. (That seems to be a popular request for Santa this year.)

Six-year-old N. wants a book. If Santa would also like to throw in a puppy, she’d be fine with that, too.

Three year old H. is a boy with a plan. He loves Minions. He wants all the Minions for his present.

E. didn’t tell us her age, but she did make sure to tell Santa that her 1-year old brother pulls her hair! She wants sparkly unicorns (who doesn’t?)

10-year-old J. told Santa to just surprise him.

I’ve been volunteering with the Connected Santa program for eight years now. It’s true to say that every volunteer has a heartfelt connection with the Connected Santa program. It’s a humbling experience and it sure puts everything in perspective. It makes us appreciate the holidays with our families even more, and just puts a feeling of hopefulness and cheer in our hearts that carries us onwards with jingle bells and a few sparkles on the side!

Come join us at Cisco.

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Cisco Technology Brings Santa to Sick Children

Cisco is dedicated to using our technology around the world to make a positive difference in the lives of people and local communities. This December, Cisco offices on 3 continents partnered with hospitals to use Cisco collaboration technology to help bring holiday cheer to sick children and their families. More than 60 hospitals in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America and Australia participated this year in Cisco’s 7th annual “Connected Santa” program.

Picture courtesy of Children's Hospital of Michigan, USA

Picture courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, USA

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Santa’s Special Connections

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 Read More »

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What the Holiday Season is All About – Cisco Connects the North Pole to Children’s Hospitals

Throughout the years, I’ve been able to witness some great examples of technology’s ability to connect people when it really matters.  Now, with Christmas lights everywhere and the holiday season upon us, it’s the time of year where wishes really do come true.  And no one is better suited to spread holiday cheer than Santa himself – that’s why Cisco established the Santa Connection program.

In its sixth year, the program aims to connect Santa with young patients unable to leave the hospital and allows them to “virtually” visit Santa. Through Santa Connection, Cisco engineers set up Cisco TelePresence solutions via iPad, laptop or cart in children’s hospitals across the globe. These children are then able to share their Christmas wishes with the man himself “in-person” over high-definition video and Santa’s elves are on hand in the hospital to give gifts.  What a great way to put smiles on children’s faces. Read More »

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Santa Takes Cisco Technology on Virtual Sleigh Ride Across U.K. and Ireland

For many children, visiting Santa Claus, sitting on his lap, and telling him what they want for Christmas is a highlight of the holiday season. But for a sick, hospitalized child, participating in this tradition can be impossible.

Thanks to Cisco technology and a network of Cisco volunteers, hundreds of hospitalized children in the U.K. and Ireland have a chance to visit with Santa each year – in the most high-tech way possible.

One of eight volunteer Santas in the 2012 Connected Santa program in the U.K. and Ireland

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