THE ultimate gift for Far Northern kids in hospital this Christmas would be to be home and well.
But the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation has given them the next best thing - the new Cairns Hospital Paediatric Playground is officially open.
Already open to patients for several weeks, this week the Foundation pays tribute to the $1.3 million in donations from the generous community, that made the playground a reality.
Foundation chairman Dr Ken Chapman said research showed that play helped improve medical outcomes, and there was no better place to play, than overlooking the ocean.
Fundraising for the playground began back in 2006, when a vacant rooftop overlooking the Cairns Esplanade, was identified as the ideal space for a new playground, adjacent to the Children’s Ward.
"Many special people have contributed to this project and while we've had some significant individual donations of up to $25,000, all the little donations of $50 or $100 have helped bring it to fruition," Dr Chapman said.
He particularly paid tribute to the CA Architects team who donated their time to create the designs.
The playground features play equipment for all abilities, soft-fall surfaces, shade sails, a craft room, school room, pool table and that all important view to the ocean.
"We actually think it's pretty unique having the hospital playground overlooking the ocean and we hope it contributes to help kids get better quicker," Dr Chapman said.
“To everyone who donated, thank you.”
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Board acting chair Carolyn Eagle said she had no doubt the playground would get a fair working over.
“As a Mum myself, I’ve come to realise that even if my kids are sick I’m Buckley’s of keeping them inside for long,” she laughed.
“Having a playground right outside is as close as we can come to normalising a hospital stay for sick youngsters. I’d like to thank the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation for their extraordinary efforts in making this playground a reality.”
Paediatrics’ Nurse Unit Manager Caroline Witter said the playground wouldn’t just benefit sick children, but also their siblings who visit.
Ms Witter said Cairns has a lot of families that often have a partner away working, or out to sea or in Brisbane for a business trip.
“It is pretty common to have one parent come in with the whole brood in tow,” she said.
“This area is great because it means that our patient can go outside and play with their brothers and sisters just like they would at home.
“They can play around in a safe environment, get some clear air and some sun and when they are good and tired we are just next door.”
PHOTO: Terrell Nelson and James Minniecon have a blast on the newly opened Paediatric Playground at Cairns Hospital.
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