Many parents say that caring for a seriously ill child is like 'living in a bubble'. Kindergarten must be put on hold, play dates become a distant memory and even a visit to the playground becomes impossible. Treatments such as chemotherapy can leave a child's immune system so depleted that visiting any public place can be fraught with danger. Picking up a simple bug from another child can lead to life threatening complications for children like little Alex Tann.
Alex Tann - Photo courtesy The AdvertiserAlex was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January 2013. For his parents, Phil and Jo, one of the most unexpected and heartbreaking consequences of their little boy's diagnosis was being told they could no longer take him to his favourite place - the local playground. Fortunately for the Tanns, they managed to buy Alex some backyard play equipment and he loves nothing more than having fun at “Alex’s playground” between hospital visits.
Phil and Jo said ‘play time’ remains an important factor in Alex’s treatment.
“While the ultimate goal is tending to Alex’s physical wellbeing, a big part of this for us is making sure he's healthy and happy. For an active three year old like Alex that means lots of play time. Having his play equipment in the back yard has been a vital component in this so far and when he's happy we draw strength and happiness from him.”
Alex with his Dad, Phil - Photo courtesy The Advertiser
Unfortunately not all families can provide their seriously ill child with a playground of their own. So to help them, Little Heroes Foundation established a new initiative called Alex’s Playground. Not only does the program provide families with their own ‘backyard playground’, it encourages kids to play when they are feeling well enough between treatments. We feel Alex’s Playground is also an extension of Little Heroes Foundation’s Playdeck at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital that thousands of families enjoy.
Alex’s Playground is funded through our Little Heroes Care program that provides day to day support to seriously ill children and their families.
Through Alex’s Playground we hope that families can get outside and play, and enjoy a simple pleasure that serious illness commonly takes away from them. We also know that when play brings a smile to a seriously ill child’s face, it can give their parents strength to face the challenging days ahead.
Read The Advertiser's moving story on Alex here