‘Purposeful Fun’: Prosper team comes together on and off the kickball field
It's cooler now, but not that long ago, the “Kicking Chickens” and “2 Legit 2 Kick” kickball teams took the field. During the summer, the two teams fought for kickball supremacy and bragging rights the next day at work.
What makes the two teams special is that they are made up of about 30 colleagues, ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s, and they all work together at Cook Children’s Medical Center – Prosper.
As the season wrapped up in mid-August, the Chickens and the 2 Kickers noted a particular side effect tailing them home from the field: lifted spirits.
It’s all thanks to Cook Children's Medical Center Prosper's chaplain Amanda Payne Lindsay, MDiv, who put the teams together, with a plan to boost morale and build collaboration that would follow the players back to work.
“When people work with kids with serious illnesses, it can be really hard,” Amanda said. “Purposeful fun can help heal some of this moral distress and bond team members together. Across the Cook Children’s Health Care System, the department of Spiritual Care is very involved in staff care, and sometimes best way you care for someone’s spirit is by providing laughter and joy. I feel like the kickball teams really did lift our spirit as a team at the hospital, not just on the field.”
With so many new faces, the games play a vital role in creating a comradery and building a culture of collaboration.
“You can see a culture building here and we are developing that sense of family, that is so important at Cook Children's” said Kevin Greene, MHA, Vice President, Administrator. “You see it at work, but it’s great to see it carry over to after hours as well and everyone wanting to be together. A lot of it goes back to the hiring process. We wanted to bring in not only the best people for the job, but also people who fit our culture. We brought in a lot of really great, quality people, so it only makes sense that they would want to hang out with one another.”
Almost 75 % of Prosper hires were from other systems outside Cook Children’s.
“Relationships are everything at Cook Children’s,” said 2 Legit 2 Kick’s Sheralyn Hartline, RN, DNP, RNC-NIC, Assistant Vice President, Nursing and Patient Care at Prosper. “When your job is as difficult, as grueling as ours can be – it’s really important that we lift each other up as a family.”
“When employees can be transparent about their stress, teams can support each other better and cheer colleagues on,” Sheralyn said. “That transparency takes trust and vulnerability that comes from knowing coworkers on a deeper level.”
The benefits of laughter
Experts suggest laughter can make employees more productive at work. And laughter was definitely a byproduct of these teams’ collective experience.
“Collaboration means we’re all on the same team, win or lose,” said 2 Legit 2 Kick member Megan Almond, MS, CCC-SLP, speech therapist, and one of several team members who hadn’t played kickball since grade school. “And we all agreed – we’ve never had this much fun losing.”
“Kickball was definitely not something I’d say we excel at, but we really bonded laughing and lifting each other up,” agreed Kesha Spates, MBA, RRT-NPS, respiratory therapy manager. “To see us on the kickball field, you’d never know we have some of the best people in the region when it comes to pediatrics, from nurses to surgeons, from ER staff to supply chain.”
“We never played a game in weather below 95 degrees,” said Johnathan Dring, RN, BSN, and member of the Kicking Chickens. “Without the laughter, we might not have survived the Texas heat.”
Jonathan also saw another side of his teammates, different from the ones at work. Clinical people tapped into their creativity to design logos for the team uniforms. Families joined at games to cheer on moms and dads as they played. Conversations popped up in the hospital, sparked by connections made on the field and in the dugout.
“When you know someone outside of work, it can help inform how you interact at work,” said Krista Cowell, MSN, RN, CPN, nurse manager, PICU and med surg unit. “When we learn more about how our colleagues approach work, we can support one another better.”
Krista Cowell, MSN, RN, CPN, nurse manager, PICU and med surg unit, saw non-kickballers covering parts of shifts so co-workers could make it to a game on time – and felt happy for teammates she’d never met before the kickball season, as they were honored or earned promotions.
“When you know someone outside of work, it can help inform how you interact at work,” Krista said. “When we learn more about how our colleagues approach work, we can support one another better.”