A hospital can be a scary place for a child, especially for a pediatric cancer patient. The enhanced playroom at Hassenfeld Children’s Center makes a big difference. Recent studies have proven what Making Headway has known for decades: the hospital’s physical environment affects patients’ experiences, emotional needs, and health outcomes. The physical environment includes how the hospital looks and is organized, as well as the presence of age-appropriate activities, games, and food for the children, their siblings, and their parents. Through our programs, we have transformed the center into a fun, healthy place for children and families. On any given day, children of all ages and backgrounds can be found happily absorbed in arts and crafts activities or games, or munching on delicious, healthy snacks. Professional entertainers and child therapists are also part of the playroom team, helping the whole family feel comfortable, relaxed, and welcome. Every child at the Hassenfeld Children’s Center enjoys the use of the enhanced playroom, with activities supported by Making Headway.
Fairytale Yoga is a one-of-a-kind program designed specifically for children undergoing treatment. Instructor Annie Hickman, who created the program, uses her skills and understanding to help children and their families feel more relaxed and content. Yoga works wonderfully with children. They love to explore playful movements with their bodies. When Annie first joined the team, over a decade ago, she quickly discovered that children in the hospital do not want her to teach them yoga in the traditional way. They respond best when they can take on the role of teacher. Annie fills her special space with magical props and supplies, while children dance with silk butterfly wings, play yoga games and make music with Tibetan singing bowls. They have great fun leading the way, and Annie follows them in creating a playful and rewarding yoga experience, often including parents, siblings and friends. Fairytale yoga helps transform an environment that can be filled with fear and uncertainty into a place of hope and love.
Massage Therapy is one of the most unique emotional and spiritual wellness programs supported by Making Headway. By reducing muscle tension, stimulating circulation, reducing joint pain and increasing mobility, massage therapy promotes relaxation and healing. Family members also benefit from massage therapy, as it has been shown to reduce stress and provide an overall improved sense of well-being. Other benefits for both patients and family members include stronger feelings of safety, comfort and support; enhanced self-esteem; and reduced anxiety and depression.