The Priyanka Foundation is a nonprofit organization in Minnesota. Its purpose is to serve sick children and families by operating Child Life service programs for chronically ill children in India.
A Child Life Center (CLC) is an innovative global concept that makes a significant and positive impact in the medical world for sick children and their families. A CLC works with these children and families to minimize the stress they feel during hospital stays or visits to the clinics, emergency rooms, radiology, or surgery areas.
In addition a CLC provides developmental, educational, and therapeutic intervention for these children and their families, recognizing individual family needs, respecting different methods of coping.
Specific services include:
- Conducting pre-surgery tours and preparation for children scheduled for surgery.
- Teaching relaxation and mental imagery techniques to help children control pain, deal with anxiety, or cope with medical procedures.
- Leading crafts and other daily activities (such as picnics, outings, and family nights)
- Providing support for a patient’s siblings.
- Facilitating support groups for children facing a chronic or life-threatening illness or experiencing a family loss.
- Conducting classroom visits to help students understand a classmate’s illness and health care.
- Providing television/audio-visual equipment and resources in patient rooms.
- Coordinating joint programming with community organizations.
- Bringing celebrities, athletes, clowns, and other performers into the hospital.
The Priyanka Foundation proposes to open and operate two Priyanka child life services programs in India. Priyanka Child Life Services expects to join the Child life Council, Inc., a North-American based organization for child life professionals around the world. While CLC’s have been implemented in many parts of the world, none exist in India.
The foundation is based in Minnesota, the home of its inspiration and founders, and also because Minnesota is a global leader in Child Life Center (CLC) programming. The Priyanka Foundation is choosing to base itself out of Minnesota for two reasons:
- The organization is named after Priyanka Bhakta a patient at the Children’s Hospital and Clinics in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 1999 until 2003. Priyanka died at the age 8 from complications during bone marrow transplant that was performed at the University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital. The Priyanka Foundation was formed, in her memory, so that sick children in India would have similar opportunities for emotional healing and support during their hospital stay.
- The Priyanka Foundation recognizes the excellent relationships that already exist between Medical Institutions in India and Minnesota. This mutual cooperation is beneficial in initiating the CLC concept in India. In addition the CLC at the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota will act as a model for the Priyanka Child Life Services program in India.
Why playing is so important
Play is the cornerstone of expression in childhood and a normal part of everyday life. The child life department provides opportunities and appropriate toys and activities to encourage children to play. Often through play, a child can relax enough to express feelings or fears about medical experiences.
Child life maintains specially equipped playrooms that are safe, stress-free places for patients to play. Playrooms also are the center of activities, including visits from zoo animals, bingo, and other special events.
Playing with medical materials helps a child gain a sense of control. Child life specialists supervise medical play, and help children become familiar with hospital equipment. As the child”s creative imagination unfolds, the medical equipment and experiences become less frightening.
Additional child life services
- Presurgery tours and preparation for children scheduled for surgery.
- Teach relaxation and mental imagery techniques to help children control pain, deal with anxiety, or cope with medical procedures.
- Provide support for a patient”s siblings.
- Facilitate support groups for children facing a chronic or life-threatening illness or experiencing a family loss.
- Conduct classroom visits to help students understand a classmate”s illness and health care.
- Collaborate on a closed-circuit television system with live programming.
- Coordinate pet therapy visits.
- Joint programming with community organizations.
Special facilities for children
In addition to the playrooms, child life maintains other special rooms to help hospitalized children feel at home. Children”s –– Minneapolis and Children –– St. Paul have a library with books, audiotapes, and videotapes. Special facilities in the clinics, emergency rooms, short stay units, and day surgery centers give children a place to play. Teenagers” recreational needs are met with movies, video games, computers, and DVD and CD players.
It is crucial to involve the entire family in order to ensure the best possible outcome. Our staff works closely with parents and guardians to provide support and understanding of what the child is going through. We also provide information and support to siblings to promote their ability to cope with the situation.
This playroom environment found in each of The Valerie Fund Centers offers a number of therapeutic items designed to help children learn about their illness through play. These include medical teaching dolls, such as the “Zadie,” “Charlie,” and “Shadow Buddies”; computer software which provides fun and educational games; relaxation programs; puppets used primarily with children ages 3-6; doll houses used as a tool to address family issues; multi-ethnic dolls used in role play and storytelling for children from various ethnic backgrounds. The playroom setting allows for better communication between The Valerie Fund staff and the pediatric patients.