Play Makes Good Medicine

Playright, a Hospital Play Service, has been using fun and play to help young patients and their families in 10 Hong Kong hospitals. Since 1994, they have been building playgrounds, organising community fun days, setting up centres with toys for loan and equipping play buses which visit local housing estates.

For young people staying in hospitals, faced with the unfamiliar world of sickness, strangers and sometimes intimidating medical treatment, play therapy’ can be a vital aid to recovery. “Play distracts them from their pain and from thinking about their disease. Otherwise they are very lonely,” says Blondi Kwok, Playright’s Community and Hospital Play manager.

During the 2003 SARS epidemic, Playright provided more than 11,400 uniquely designed play packs. It devised a Kiddies’ Television Channel to infiltrate children’s isolation wards and bring the sound of laughter into the loneliest of places. In July 2004, the Kiddies’ Channel was given a trial run in Hong Kong’s Princess Margaret Hospital. There were Clown doctors, storytellers and stage performances. Young patients either participated or received the broadcast at their bedside through a monitor. This way, they could interact with the performers via telephone or through video conferencing, join in games and chat. With help from hospital staff, organisers navigated tricky technical challenges to get the channel broadcast to three paediatric wards and two infectious disease units.

“The isolation ward really liked the project. They felt happier because they could make contact with children in other wards,” says Kwok. She is keen to find the funds to continue the project and to get a Play Ambassador in all Hong Kong hospitals in the near future.

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