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The Healing Nature of Play

“We cannot thank Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation enough for the ongoing support in the area of play. All the research shows that it has enormous impact on the physical and mental well-being of children.” – Emma Davidson, Director of Allied Health Services

 “My brother spends a lot of time in hospital. He’s nearly died a couple of times. I feel uncomfortable sometimes, being here. I’m glad there are places around the hospital that I can visit that aren’t on the wards though. The wards have always been a place that means that my brother is really sick and not at home with us. It also means that Mum isn’t home either,” explains Eliana.

Her brother has a rare disease and has seen many different hospital rooms over the last 14 years.

“But Fun on Four is a great place to spend my time, when we have to wait for appointments or when I’ve had enough of being in my brother’s hospital room. My favourite space is the Book Bunker.”

Fun on Four continues Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation’s long history of funding moments of happiness. Kids can create positive memories at the hospital, with a number of programs running to help kids access the healing nature of play.

“Play has a very important role in normalising the hospital experience for patients and their siblings. We find that they are less anxious and are better equipped to make connections with hospital staff through play, so they aren’t just people coming into their rooms and doing procedures. They form more lasting relationships, which is really important, particularly for long term patients,” remarked Senior Occupational Therapist, Samantha Watters.

“Fun on Four, with its wide range of spaces and programs, really promotes play for play’s sake. We know this is so important for a child’s emotional and social development, as well as more functional gross and fine motor skills,” added Emma Davidson, A/Director of Allied Health Services. “Being purpose built and state of the art, this recreational play space has been a huge step forward in giving kids a dedicated place to play.”

“The Foundation has also been very generous in the provision of play resources throughout the hospital. Through our Allied Health staff, we are able to supply kids on the wards with age and ability appropriate toys. These toys are well used, so need to be of a high quality. They are also replaced regularly,” said Samantha.

“The outpatient clinics have a trolley of activities, such as colouring and the like for the children who are waiting for appointments. Staff can offer these activities to kids who are showing signs of stress or boredom, which in turn can prevent a meltdown or tantrum in an already stressful situation. We are very grateful to the Foundation for the continual replacement of these consumables.”

“Long term patients also have access to targeted play kits, funded by Foundation donors. Our Allied Health therapists are able to get to know the kids and create specific play opportunities based on that child’s needs. For these patients, this might be an extended art project such as paper mâche rather than a simple cut and paste activity.”

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