Rehab Through Play Project
Children First Foundation (CFF) is a Melbourne based not-for-profit charity founded in 1999. They facilitate life-changing – sometimes life-saving – surgery in Australia for children from developing countries. The children they support are unable to access the medical procedures, resources and care that they require as these complex and often multiple surgical procedures are not available in the children’s own countries.
CFF work in collaboration with extraordinary surgeons, medical doctors, health professionals and hospitals who often provide this first-class treatment and allied health therapy, on a pro bono basis and to date have supported over 350 children from more than 30 different countries.
Pre and post-surgery the children are cared for at the Miracle sMiles Retreat at Kilmore Victoria, or by volunteers in the Adelaide region if their surgery is done in Adelaide.
A child’s stay averages 6 months and Miracle sMiles Retreat provides the highest level of care and support possible. It is supervised 24/7 by a mix of local staff and volunteers. Volunteers provide the children with home schooling, supervision in their daily physio programmes, arrange activities and support the daily running of the home.
Children often arrive underweight and malnourished, in some instances needing to increase their weight by up to 10kg to reach the required weight for surgery. Sometimes lack of use has left muscles wasted and needing strengthening prior to surgery. Misuse or overuse of certain muscles to counteract pain or lack of mobility in another area of the body can also require correction through carefully supervised programs. CFF also often find that the children arrive shy and withdrawn having often faced isolation, prejudice or even violence in their own communities because of their medical conditions. Preparing the children both physically and emotionally for their surgery is crucial to support successful health outcomes. One of the ways in which support is provided for the children to heal in every way is through play. CFF volunteers aim to regularly arrange different physical activities, as appropriate for the children living in the retreat at the time. These games and activities allow the children to both exercise their bodies and begin to feel accepted by their peers as they join in games with the other children and volunteers.
Through other funding, CFF has been able to create a new asphalt play area. This multi-purpose area has been designed to allow for a variety of sports to be played on it such as basketball, tennis and badminton.
However, the funds did not stretch to cover sports equipment and UCF received an application for a small grant ($1,913.80) to cover purchasing the equipment so the children can make full use of the activities appropriate to their physical capabilites following surgery:
- Basketball Tower $199.00 x 2
- Force Basketballs $29.90 x2
- MacGregor Folding Soccer Goal Price 2 for $120
- HART Street Soccer Ball $17.50 x 2
- HART Mini Tennis Kit $465
- HART Badminton Kit $219
- HART Cricket Kit $70
- Trampoline mat replacement (approx. cost) $200
- Shed for storage $347 (Bunnings EASYSHED EZISLIDER 1.50M X 0.78M)
UCF directors were pleased to grant $2,000 to Children First Foundation to help speed the healing of these vulnerable children through activities we hope will produce some fun and laughter following the pain.