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C2鈥?Jing鈥檃n                                                                                     Tuesday 29 August 2017鈥?Shanghai Daily

Programs make hospital stay nicer for kids

Li Qian                                            Niu Jun (second from right) and other volunteers do crafts work with children suffering from leukemia as part of a
                                                   Shanghai Children鈥檚 Hospital effort to take their minds off pain and put some fun in their lives. 鈥?Jiang Xiaowei
Being hospitalized is never pleasant,
           particularly for children. Not only do  Wanna help? Guidelines for getting involved
           they have medical problems to face
           but also social and educational isola-  For almost the last two
tion from normal children.                         decades, about 120,000
                                                   people have participated
   A boy named Chengcheng is a 鈥渞egular visi-      in volunteer work
tor鈥?at Shanghai Children鈥檚 Hospital. He was       organized by the Shanghai
diagnosed with leukemia about two years            Children鈥檚 Hospital. It
ago and often needs to be hospitalized for         offers suggestions based
weeks at a time to receive treatment.              on age groups.

   Shanghai Children鈥檚 Hospital has devel-         1. Children under the age of 6               Volunteer Wang Yiqun, an amateur painter, gives art lessons to young patients.
oped special programs to cater to patients         Parents can take them to a charity fair
like Chengcheng, including regular school          where children donate toys, books or         experiments done in the hospital labora-      science can help develop online platforms
lessons so they don鈥檛 miss out on class            other items for sale to raise money to help  tory. It鈥檚 a way of helping them realize how  for volunteers, and students majoring in
work.                                              chronically ill children. The process can    precious life is and may even encourage       art can help decorate ward walls.
                                                   help them understand those less fortunate    some to think about careers in healthcare.
   Starting last year, teachers from 12 Shang-     and teach them how to develop a caring                                                     6. White-collar workers
hai kindergartens, primary and middle              nature.                                      4. High school students                       Busy office workers can be asked to
schools have been coming to the hospital                                                        Besides 鈥渋mmersive experiences,鈥?they         spare an hour to do volunteer work at the
once a week to give lessons to young leuke-        2. Primary school students                   can also help design charity programs         hospital. It costs nothing but a little time.
mia patients. The ward school, the first of        They can join a one-day visit to the hospi-  that benefit the sick.
its kind, is held in a room fitted out to look     tal to see how doctors work, and they can                                                  7. Retired people
just like a regular classroom. The curriculum      play with young patients.                    5. University students                        They can assist as information guides in
covers Chinese, math, social studies, science                                                   They can be encouraged to parlay their        hospital corridors, fielding questions from
and art.                                           3. Middle school students                    skills into useful volunteer services. For    visitors who often don鈥檛 know the way to
                                                   They have access to a five-day 鈥渋mmersive    example, students majoring in computer        departments they are seeking.
   鈥淚 like it,鈥?Chengcheng said. 鈥淗ere I have      experience.鈥?Each student follows a doc-
teachers and friends.鈥?                            tor around on his ward visits and watches

   鈥淭his school ensures that they won鈥檛 be                                                                                                    Far left: Children are
behind when they return to regular schools,鈥?                                                                                                 shown by doctors how to
said Niu Jun, head of the hospital鈥檚 social                                                                                                   use a microscope as part
work office.                                                                                                                                  of occupational therapy.

   Niu, 39, was a lab technician when he grad-                                                                                                Left: In-hospital school
uated from medical school and began work at                                                                                                   keeps children from
the hospital 20 years ago. Twelve years ago,                                                                                                  missing out on regular
he requested a transfer to the social work                                                                                                    class work.
department, where he has been touched by
the brave hearts of young patients.

   鈥淭hey never utter a sound when they are
receiving chemotherapy or bone marrow
punctures, which can be very painful,鈥?he
said. 鈥淭hey don鈥檛 want to worry their parents
so they just endure pain as best they can.鈥?
   Niu is determined to make their hospital
stay more pleasant. It鈥檚 a big task. Nearly half
of China鈥檚 annual 30,000-to-40,000 increase
in leukemia cases are children. They face
long treatment.

   Niu said he believes that happiness can
make children heal faster. His idea is to cre-
ate a non-hospital environment for young
patients as a way of showing them that they
are still part of normal society.

   In addition to the school, the hospital has
set up a playroom for young patients. They
also have access to lessons in painting and
reading, and they are taken on outings to
places like Shanghai Disneyland and the Ori-
ental Pearl TV Tower.

   鈥淲e hope to give them quality of life,鈥?Niu
said. 鈥淲e want them to have time when they
forget disease and pain. We want them to
think of the hospital as more than just a
cold-hearted place that gives injections and
dispenses pills.鈥?
   Three years ago, Niu and his co-workers
conducted a survey that found nearly two in
three young leukemia patients had emotional
troubles. Many were anxious about missing
out on school. Some were introverted and

   The ward school resulted from the survey.
鈥淲e have an obligation to help them grow up,
despite disease,鈥?Niu said.

   In 2005, he ended a volunteer stint in a
backward area of Yunnan Province, which
gave Niu fresh insights about helping young

   鈥淚 saw that aid is not just about giving
people or coming to see them a few times a
week,鈥?he said. 鈥淭o really make a difference,
you have to become truly involved in the
lives of people. We can鈥檛 think about what
they can bring to us, but rather what we can
give to them.鈥?
   The Shanghai Children鈥檚 Hospital utilizes
volunteers of all ages and professions to give
that loving touch to medical care.
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