Three lovely girls lay side-by-side in MCH’s female ward. All three are 2nd graders. One lost her leg after a bus hit her. Another has a severely broken arm. The third has a serious bone infection. Is there any hope for these sweet, little ones? How can we offer joy and freedom and hope?
Children, even those who lie flat on their backs, need to play. Normal play is an essential part of children’s health and development. Plato, the famous philosopher (429-347 BC), taught that play is an important factor of health. And Frobrel, educator and author, wrote, “Play is the highest development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in the child’s soul…Children’s play is not mere sport. It is full of meaning and import.” (Frobel, The Education of Man).
AOB’s healthcare professionals also see play as therapy. Our doctors and nurses gather popular toys- animals, dolls, crayons, and cars- and give them to our young patients. Now little Sumi eagerly shows me her completed coloring book. Rupna, doll in arms, points out her favorite sticker page. And one of our nurses is showing the girls how to cut out paper pictures. Jeki is smiling and nodding, eager to try the scissors herself.
Of course, when these girls first entered our hospital, they were terrified and hopeless. Yet those negative feelings have become less intense as, through play, the girls freely choose activities. Through quiet dramatic play, quite unbeknownst to them, they are dealing with their emotional issues. They realize that they are still able to create beauty, and positive feelings emerge.
Play therapy is simply one small way that MCH is meeting its goal of healing the whole person. It may be a small way, but it’s surely fun.