In 2013, the first plans began for the nation’s first recreational play center for sick children. This year, on September 16, that dream became a reality for Lymphoma survivor Amanda Winn, the designer of this project.
Though the nation is full of children’s hospitals that provide care for ill kids, Children’s Healing Center, located on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, is the first organization whose focus is centered around giving children with weak immune systems a chance to play in a safe and healthy environment.
The staff takes special care to keep the environment clean, and everyone who enters receives a screening to be sure that they are healthy enough not to infect any other children. Aside from being a safe and clean place, Children’s Healing Center offers many different ways to participate in its opportunities.
Not only is there free play, but they also offer classes and other coordinated programming, such as art classes, dance and other fitness classes to keep the kids active.
In Winn’s interview with Fox 17, she talked about her struggles with isolation as she battled cancer, which birthed this idea that would allow sick children to engage in play and be normal kids without jeopardizing their health. This program focuses on kids ages three to 18 and is intentional about including the families of these children in group activities. By allowing the families to participate with their kids, they help maintain a sense of community for children who suffer from diseases that cause poor immune systems.
Children’s Healing Center has partnered with many children’s resources in Grand Rapids that benefit these children, such as housing, support groups and medical treatment. Their main goals are to help children grow, inside and out; through physical fitness, learning and socialization, children are given the opportunity to achieve.