if you had three children: two well kids and one in the hospital with a threatening medical condition?

That’s the experience Mario and Nathalie had with the birth of their son Austin, in 1996.  At that time, they had two toddlers under the age of three, with a newborn that spent 71 days in the NICU. It was after this personal experience that Mario and Nathalie recognized the need to help other young families facing challenging situations in medical facilities, and the idea for Austin’s Playrooms was born.


The vision for Austin’s Playrooms was created as a result of Nathalie and Mario Lemieux’s personal experience while caring for their infant son, Austin. Austin was born profoundly premature and spent 71 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. While they were caring for Austin, there was nothing to engage his sisters, who were both toddlers at the time.

Austin’s Playrooms are created to give kids a chance to be kids during an otherwise stressful time. The playrooms allow families the ability to escape the burden of difficult or extended medical situations and focus on health and healing.

Who Do Austin’s Playrooms Help?

Austin’s Playrooms have helped over 1 Million Children


Austin’s Playrooms seek to benefit families and improve the quality of a child’s hospital experience whether as a visitor or patient by establishing cheerful playrooms that are safe, calming and comfortable.

“We had to leave the NICU after just 10 minutes because Austin’s sisters were too active. It was our first Mother’s Day with Austin and I was heartbroken. I cried the whole way home.”

What Will You Find In An Austin’s Playroom?

Bright colors, engaging artwork and fun toys are just a few of the things that make up an Austin’s Playroom. All of our playrooms have a similar look and feel and are designed with the intention of engaging a young child.

Playroom Locations

Facility Name: Small Town Hope

Location: Hastings, PA

Establishment Date: 09/2019

As Austin’s Playrooms expanded in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, Nathalie and Mario recognized how playrooms could also benefit the children of our veterans and active duty warriors in the military.

Partnering with the United States Navy, the first Austin’s Military Playroom was donated to the Warrior Transition Unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, in 2011. The success of this playroom prompted a continued relationship between the Mario Lemieux Foundation and the United States Navy, leading to the creation of two more military playrooms!

By joining forces with the military, the Mario Lemieux Foundation creates playrooms that provide comfort, warmth and love for these very special military families.