A place to play continues to brighten the lives of Irish children
A SENSORY soft play facility has brought joy, engagement and entertainment to users of Belfast’s Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.
Opened in November 2016 by Wooden Spoon Ulster, the Wooden Spoon Soft Play Room is kitted out with slides, foam shapes and sensory equipment and was used by more than 220 youngsters – as well as 400 family members – in the last year alone.
Head of Children’s Hospice Services Grace Stewart explained that the room plays an important role in the Hospice’s mission to enhance the lives of its users, including youngsters with life-limiting conditions and illnesses.
“A lot of the children who use the facility will have profound disabilities and may spend a lot of time in wheelchairs or systems that restrict their movement,” she said.
“The Wooden Spoon Soft Play Room gives them a bit of freedom and a chance to interact with their peers and, indeed, their siblings in a safe, protected way. Wooden Spoon helped us to introduce the sensory elements and it’s really powerful to see the children experience cause and effect and to see smiles and hear laughter once they catch on that they are changing the colour of the room.”
Adding that the room plays an important role in the Hospice’s mission to enhance the lives of its users, including youngsters with life-limiting conditions and illnesses, she added: “Palliative care is about enhancing life and creating every opportunity we can for the children and their families.
“We can’t change the journeys they are on, but what we can do is change their experience. Facilities like the Wooden Spoon Soft Play Room are hugely important in enabling us to do that.”
Grace’s comments echoed those of her colleague Heather Weir following the room’s visit by the honorary president of Wooden Spoon Ulster, British and Irish Lions legend Willie John McBride, in 2016.
“We cannot convey enough our gratitude for the support we have received from Wooden Spoon,” said the Hospice’s CEO.
“On behalf of our staff, the children and families, I would like to thank [the] team for enabling us to have such a wonderful facility here at our hospice and enabling us to deliver an even greater level of specialist care to children and young people.”
This story features on page 10 in the Autumn 2019 edition of Spoonews, if you would like to read the full magazine please click here.