By Isabelle Smurfit, Executive
As the weeks drag on in lockdown, it’s only natural that anxieties are building at home. We know from our experiences the stress of juggling work with looking after kids, not to mention home schooling. But, of course, lockdown also affects young people and their mental health. Luckily, charities are stepping in to offer much-needed solutions.
One that is very special to me is Great Ormond Street (GOSH), a hospital that, as many will know, is unique. They manage to transform the normal hospital clinical atmosphere and transport very sick children to a seemingly magical place. They have recently launched an initiative called the Power of Play, ‘a treasure trove of free resources,’ that includes top tips and activity ideas designed to help find little moments of positivity throughout the day.
To see the Power of Play in action, the first place to look is at the hospital itself, which has the largest play team in Europe. It is important to remember that for many at GOSH, living in isolation is not abnormal. Even so, all patients are now impacted, as playrooms in the wards have been forced to close and much-loved hospital events, like the Easter Party, have been cancelled. The team of play experts are keeping spirits high by delivering sealed activity packs to patients and supporting the less vulnerable through one to one play sessions. Following their success, this initiative is now more broadly available.
Launched via social media, this free, online resource teaches families new ways to engage and be creative using minimal resources: who knew you could create a fairy house from an empty milk bottle or make handwashing seem so much fun. Communication tips offered can help explain the virus to children in a visual way that they can understand and manage their anxieties. This encourages them to feel more secure in their environment.
The results of the Power of Play have been hugely encouraging. In one week, they have seen more than 30,000 visits to the hub and 27,000 social media engagements. And yet the campaign is only just taking off with 19 activity ideas listed and plenty more to come. As GOSH has shown, simple play can really make a big difference to all children’s wellbeing.