The role of play provides not only a pleasurable distraction and temporary respite from painful procedures and unpleasant experiences that often accompany a life-threatening or life-limiting illness, it also allows the sick child the opportunity to escape from the real world with all its emotional trauma and painful procedures into a world of their own making. A fantasy world where they are the masters of their universe and they decide what magical powers they possess is a gift that only play can provide. Play is therapeutic in nature and essential for the holistic development of children. It also provides safe and acceptable ways for them to process strong feelings and release fears and concerns they may have about their illness.

Resources to download

The Role of Play in Children’s Palliative Care

Sue Boucher, Julia Downing, Rise Shemilt

Abstract: Play is the universal language of childhood and the time and opportunity to play is every child’s right. The role of play as a vehicle for communication, a tool for distraction and its value in the holistic development of a normal child is without dispute. The role and value of play increase proportionately when a child is made more vulnerable through illness or disability. Despite this, providing time and opportunities to play can be overlooked or considered to be of little importance or relevance when the focus of the adult carers is the amelioration of clinical symptoms of the illness and on lessening the psychological impact the illness may have on the child. This paper outlines the role and the value of play as an integral component in the provision of palliative care for children with
chronic, life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. It will show how providing appropriate equipment, sufficient time and relevant play opportunities not only improves the very sick child’s psychological well being, but also allows the child to cast aside the confines and restrictions imposed upon them by their illness and for a few golden moments to be nothing more than a child at play.

Download the paper: The role of play in childrens palliative care

It Costs Almost Nothing –  Beneficial Indoor Games and Handicrafts from Rubbish and Recycled Materials

By Merybeth Gallagher and Marie Harlech-Jones

When you look through these pages, you will discover all sorts of creative ways to make wonderful games and handicrafts using rubbish and recycled materials that you can collect in your own home, or from friends, or from the local grocery store. These games are perfect for pre-primary schools, early childhood centres, art classes, after school programmes, and even your own home. None of them require special equipment or take up a lot of space. They are all designed for inside a room or under a tree. All our children deserve the same opportunities to play and to learn.

CLICK HERE to download

Promoting Early Childhood Development in Paediatric Palliative Care

Written and compiled by Sue Boucher

This book, written for HPCA in 2007, is a practical resource for the development of early education centres as part of palliative care programmes. It contains information on childhood development, the role and value of play as well as suggested daily play programmes.

Download the resource: Promoting ECD in PPC HPCA Handbook

A Chance to Play South Africa

ACTP is an organisation that advocates for the right of all children to play. They have a number of free-to-download resources for you to use.

CLICK HERE to access and download these resources.