Liam Green scrambled through the Back to School party, wearing a new red and blue backpack that hung down to his knees.

So many fun activities lay before him. And 4-year-old Liam seemed eager to take it all in.

The back-to-school party at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, brought the excitement of school-year traditions to young patients and their siblings.

“Kids are missing these open houses at their schools,” said Sarah Smith, a teacher who provides lessons to children who miss school for medical care.

The party held by the hospital’s Child Life staff gave the kids a chance to enjoy the same kinds of activities. Stations set up around the hospital’s Balk Café provided fun, hands-on activities in science, math, art and music. Members of the Hope College women’s volleyball team helped the children with crafts and games.

Each child also could pick out a backpack—stuffed with school supplies. For parents worried about shopping for supplies while caring for a sick child, the donated backpacks were a big plus, Smith said.

As Liam checked out the offerings, he paused at the trail mix table, taking time to fill a baggie with scoops of Chex cereal and chocolate chips.

“Let’s get your back-to-school picture,” his mom, Crystal Green, said.

Liam, who will start preschool in September, stood before the photo backdrop holding a sign that read “My First Day of Pre-K.” And then he posed with a “School Rocks” sign, smiling wide as mom and two photographers snapped his picture.

Liam moved quickly to the music class, playing with the guitar, tambourine and other instruments.

The event provided a fun distraction for Liam, whose baby sister, Ariella, is in the NICU in the Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center, said his parents.

“He loves it,” Crystal said. “He is having a good old time.”

Since Ariella’s birth two weeks ago, the Greens have visited every day. They look for ways to make the visits special for their four older children, by visiting the playroom and the outdoor play area.

“It’s always good for them to have something else to do,” said Liam’s father, William Green. “This is a beautiful event.”