Steve Biko academic hospital. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency/ANA
A MAGICAL room has been created specifically for children with life-threatening diseases at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

Reach for a Dream, in partnership with kulula.com, opened the Dream Room at the hospital’s Oncology Clinic yesterday.

The initiative will make the stay of regular patients as comfortable as possible and provide them with a pleasant space away from home.

The facility, which opened yesterday, has been painted in colourful hues of blues and greens with touches of yellow and red. It has drawings of planes and clouds on the walls and ceiling. The launch was lively with Disney character books, a TV, couches and a PS3 PlayStation to keep the children occupied.

Paediatric oncologist Professor David Reynders said they appreciated the kind gesture shown to them. He said the environment in which a child was treated was vital. He told a story of a 12-year-old boy who had travelled alone from Mpumalanga to receive treatment. When Reynders asked him if he was not afraid of travelling alone, the boy replied that he was more scared of hospitals.

“That demonstrates what is happening to our children; they come into a hard and cold place.

“By renovating this whole facility the children will now have a lighter, more inviting place where they can get refreshments and just be while not stressing about treatment.”

The chief executive of Fine marketing and communication company, Mandi Fine, came up with the concept of the Dream Room.

The company was approached by Reach for a Dream to help communicate to doctors and specifically oncologists the importance of hope in a child’s treatment protocol. Doctors usually think about medication, she said, but the environment where they were providing treatment was also part of healing.

“We did some international research looking at hospitals globally and came across a case study of a child who had been in hospital for almost 15 years. Her wish was to be in a hopeful environment, and that is where the idea was born.

“We want to create a shift in environment where children can play, not worry about the medical treatment they are receiving so they can meet their development milestones while at ease.”

The team is working on Dream Room projects for Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

With this being Reach for a Dream’s 30th birthday, Fine said they wanted to create 30 dream rooms for hospitals in South Africa.

Reach for a Dream chief executive Mervyn Serebro said: “This magical room will be a component of healing and we have always believed in something like this and it has been established medically. Belief and hope are integral ingredients of healing so we are very excited to the professional team we hope this makes your job easier.”