Starlight and NAHPS celebrate the benefits of play in the treatment of children with National Play in Hospital Week

Play in hospital

06/09/11 – This year, National Association of Hospital Play Staff (NAHPS) has teamed up with Starlight Children’s Foundation to raise awareness of the benefits of play in the treatment of children with a UK-wide, week-long initiative called National Play in Hospital Week.

With the help of NAHPS and Starlight, play staff across the country will celebrate play and demonstrate its importance in the treatment of children by organising information stands, workshops and parties in hospitals and hospices throughout the week, which will run from 12th to 18th September. 

Starlight, which provides entertainment and distraction in hospitals and hospices in addition to granting wishes for seriously ill children, will also provide the funding for parties on children’s wards across the country, thereby giving children in hospital a chance to celebrate the initiative with other young patients and simply have a bit of fun. 

While hundreds of poorly children will get a chance to forget their illnesses and laugh, dance and sing at Starlight parties during the week, there is also a serious message behind the initiative, which aims to promote the benefits of play in the treatment of children.    

Irene O’Donnell, Play Services Manager, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explains the importance of play, saying,  “From first hand experience, play does keep sick children engaged, they require less pain relief and it can significantly reduce their recovery time.  Not only does it provide a sick child with some much needed fun and entertainment, it can also vastly reduce the amount of anxiety they experience, enabling them to respond much better to their treatment.”

While play is helpful for generally improving a child’s hospital experience, it can also significantly benefit their response to treatment.  For example, in cases where it is essential that a specialised MRI scan is performed, the child is required to be still for 20-40 minutes whilst hearing a continual loud noise and, without play, the success rate on getting this done was desperately low.  However, with the involvement of play specialists, many more children are now able to undergo this vital scan. 

Neil Swan, Chief Executive, Starlight Children’s Foundaton, said, “Starlight aims to brighten the lives of poorly children through once-in-a-lifetime wishes and entertainment and the belief that play can dramatically improve a child’s pain experience and response to treatment is central to our work.  The work that NAHPS does to promote play is extremely valuable and Starlight is delighted to support The Association and the play specialist community with National Play in Hospital Week.”

Jo Cross, Chairman of the Trustees, NAHPS, said, “With all areas of the UK’s medical service under continued pressure and scrutiny, National Play in Hospital Week will give us an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the importance of play and the role of the play specialist.  Starlight has been a long-standing supporter of the UK’s hospital play staff and we are extremely grateful for their contribution to this exciting initiative.”


Contact: Henny Breakwell
Tel: 020 7262 2881 #231

Starlight grants once-in-a-lifetime wishes for seriously and terminally ill children, restoring the magic and fun of childhood and giving the whole family happy memories to share, whatever the future holds.

Starlight also creates entertainment in every hospital and hospice throughout the UK. Sick children go to Starlight parties, laugh their way through pantomimes, go out on Starlight Escapes, play games and watch films on the Starlight Fun Centre, and enjoy the toys and puzzles of the Starlight Distraction Box. Happy children respond better to treatment and Starlight helps children to forget about their illness and simply have a bit of fun.

You can make a donation online or by calling us on 020 7262 2881. For every £1 you donate, Starlight can assure you that over 91p goes towards helping very ill children. To refer a child for a wish, simply complete our wish referral form.