In 2004 WAFF developed Mattie's Movie & Poetry Slam for children in hospitals nationwide. Patients would watch first-run feature films and then take part in an interactive Poetry Slam, collectively developing a poem based on the messages of tolerance and diversity drawn from each film. The Slams ended with a reading of the poem, while experimenting with different rhythms, sounds and interpretations.
WAFF was inspired to create the program in 2004 when Mattie J.T. Stepanek, the young poet, peacemaker and inspiration to WAFF, was upset during his final days because he thought he might never see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. WAFF took it upon itself to fulfill his dying wish and found not-for-profit organization Lollipop Theater Network, who brought the film to Mattie. It took him nearly six hours to watch the film because he could not stay conscious for long periods of time, but the smile on his face let everyone know how happy he was. Mattie died four days later, just before his 14th birthday.
The aim of the program was to bring Mattie's message of peace to children with chronic illnesses, give them a break from their difficult medical regimens and routines, and help them express and deal with their feelings of being "different." Hundreds participated in the program between 2004 and 2008.
Children's Hospital of New York — Presbyterian
Ranked as one of America's top children's hospitals of 2008, the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York — Presbyterian welcomed numerous Mattie's Movie & Poetry Slam programs from 2004-2008, providing an "escape" for patients dealing with tough medical issues.