Across the UK today, children and communities will come together at events from woodland adventures to street parties and festivals, held in parks and village greens, to celebrate children’s right to play.
Founded by playworkers Mick Conway, Paul Bonel and Kim Holdaway in 1986, Playday aims to highlight the importance of play in children’s lives and show why it is so vital for their health and development, as well as being a fundamental part of childhood (you can find out more about Playday and its history here https://www.playday.org.uk/).
At Rays of Sunshine we are acutely aware that for too many children play can become eclipsed by hospital stays, treatment and endless rounds of appointments. For this reason, our hospital days are an incredibly important part of our charity and we aim to reach out to as many children as possible to allow them time to come and play, away from the daily routine they face in hospital.
We’re very lucky to have some fantastic volunteers, who are spearheaded by Melissa (in London) and Sally (in Manchester), alongside our Hospital Liaison Manager, Claire, to organise all of our hospital days. They aim to bring sunshine to the hospitals – and to our office too! Thanks to them, Rays of Sunshine hospital days are full of fun and frolics for children whose play time has been affected by their illnesses.
On a typical hospital day, the team will arrive and set up a play room as a sort of mini Rays of Sunshine grotto, with tables set up for lots of crafting activities from painting sun-catchers to building teddy bears – there’s something for everyone! Unfortunately, not all of the children can make it down to the play rooms on the day as they aren’t able to leave their ward. We wouldn’t want anyone to miss out, however, and luckily we’re able to take lots of the fun to them in their beds!
Along with the crafts there’s the opportunity to experience rollercoasters, deep sea diving or sky diving courtesy of a very cool virtual reality headset.
A party atmosphere is added to the days by Princess performers who always arrive with games to play, music to dance to and lots of smiles and laughter for the children. The princesses’ activities are always tailored to the children attending the day, with everything from lively dancing and singing to reading and colouring books.
Bollywood dancers bring colour and entertainment to the days, performing routines and encouraging the children to join in. The kids love having temporary tattoos and bindis too! In Manchester, a touch of drama is added by the wonderful face painting experts whose amazing creations are always guaranteed to delight the kids!
Expert balloon modelling are always a hit with the patients (and with us too!).
Our caricaturists, are amazing at capturing the cheeky grins of happy hospital day attendees! The drawings are always spot on and they always chat to each child to find out more about them and make the drawings even more personal. Even those children who are far too busy tearing around and experiencing everything get a brilliant drawing to have as a fun keepsake of the day.
Rounding off our hospital day team are the Rays of Sunshine staff and lots of lovely volunteers who come and spend the day with us, helping the children with the arts and crafts, applying temporary tattoos and painting nails. With so many things going on, it’s all hands on deck to make sure that everyone is having a great time and getting to join in with all of the activities they love!
We like to think that our activity days bring some fun and play into children’s hospital stays and make them just a little bit sunnier and as you can see from the feedback below, the families think so too!
“You made what would have been a worrying time before surgery a really fun time for Mia during her latest stay at Alder Hey ❤️ you all do an amazing, selfless job and I for one truly appreciate all you do❤️ Thank you Rays of Sunshine” ☀️ ☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️”