Lluvia Health Commemorates Maiden Int’l Day of Play with Children Suffering Chronic Health Challenges

Sunday Okobi

A group that advocates for the integration of play and play therapy in paediatric healthcare settings, Lluvia Health Organisation, yesterday commemorated the International Day of Play (IDOP) by putting together a day of therapeutic play and arts for children with various chronic health challenges such as sickle cell, cancer, and developmental delays.

In recognition of the immense benefits of play for children, the United Nations has earmarked June 11 as the International Day of Play. This day marks a significant milestone in the child health advocacy space as efforts to invest in and protect the right of every child to play are now being made on a more cohesive and global scale.

The day was organised in collaboration with Upbeat Recreation Center, The Children’s Art Gallery (TCAG), and Bama. The children were engaged in painting, collage making, and colouring led by TCAG to help improve different skills such as creativity, communication, independence, and teamwork.

The Founder and Executive Director, Lluvia health Organisation, Dr. Amenze Eguavoen, while explaining the focus on children with chronic health conditions said: “For children with chronic health challenges, play is often a wish in a well as they miss school and play-time with friends and family due to frequent hospital visits and sick days in bed. Children with developmental delays face even more barriers due to stigma and poor access to assistive technology to improve their functional capabilities thereby restricting their interaction with other kids and opportunities for play and skills building.

“For movement and balance, they engaged in physical play activities such as rock climbing and jumping at the Upbeat trampoline park. The event allowed children and parents bond as they created art pieces together and played at the trampoline park after which they engaged in counseling sessions.

In her remark, the Child Health Officer, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Azeez, who highlighted the importance of events like this on the holistic development and well-being of children, said: “Play and art are powerful tools that transcend simple entertainment. They are vital in promoting physical health, supporting emotional well-being, enhancing emotional resilience, and fostering social interaction.”

On her own, Consultant Paediatrician, Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Dr. Ifeoma Ezeoma, who represented the President, Paediatric Association of Nigeria, at the event, stated that “As clinicians, we see a lot of children with chronic illnesses, and because of the challenges they face-physical, social, emotional, psychological challenges-it’s also a burden on the parents because when a child is ill the parents and the whole family is unhappy. We thank the United Nations for this special day of play because we know the importance of play in the life of a child. It helps all areas of development in children, including emotional regulation and cognitive development.”

Earlier in the year, Lluvia Health Organisation had also organised a play activity for children in the paediatric ward of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. The purpose of that event was to allow hospitalised children experience the joy of Children’s Day like their counterparts who were out of the hospital. Through its team of volunteers, the children on admission made their own paintings and clay pots, put together complex puzzle pieces, and were read stories by their bedsides.

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