Local teens bring new sensory toys to children in hospital

04 Jun 2018

Last month, five pupils from Mayfield School, Dagenham, visited Whipps Cross Hospital to deliver sensory toys to the children’s wards. The Year 9 students were recently awarded £1,500 from the Mayor’s Fund for London ‘City Pitch’ initiative after they visited City Hall to present a project that would improve the lives of children who are in hospital long-term.

The project has been named ‘Heroic Helpers’ and was developed after student Aaryn shared the experiences of his hospitalised cousin, aged 10.

Over 1 million children in the UK miss school each year due to disability and long-term illness. Living in hospital disrupts normal routines and makes it difficult to socialise. It can become a stressful experience and interfere with their development. Stirred by the thought of all the opportunities they had that these children did not, the Mayfield School students decided to centre a campaign around bringing sensory toys to children in hospital wards.

The toys were chosen after careful consultation with staff at Whipps Cross. “To have this attitude at their age is fantastic – helping others at a difficult time,” says Sue Malam, a play specialist at the children’s ward. “They’ll make a lot of children happy with these toys.”

Among the toys donated on the day were bean bags, bubble tubes, interactive wall toys and light projectors. Many of these toys were selected for their relaxing properties. When children come in for a blood test, sensory toys like the bubble tubes – tall containers filled with bubbles, toy jellyfish and colour-changing lighting – can have a calming influence. The light projectors, which project tranquil images of space onto the walls around them, can help to distract children and reduce stress.

Additional toys will be placed in the children’s A&E waiting room to entertain youngsters waiting for appointments. The Associate Director of Nursing for Children’s Services, Ghislaine Stephenson, explained that children having an operation often must fast for hours beforehand. The hunger can make them miserable but toys can provide great distractions from the hunger.

One of the organisers of the project, 13-year-old Aashar, said that it has been a great experience for his classmate. “It makes Aaryn happy to see the children happy, because it reminds him of his cousin.”

The toys and equipment that the students brought to the hospital will brighten the stays of the children who come to Acorn Ward, along with their families and the staff helping them recover. Thank you to the students of Mayfield School for making a lasting impact to Whipps Cross Hospital, and to the Mayor’s Fund for London for supporting their initiative.

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