In-hospital radio keeps kids happy

CHEERFUL SOUND: Radio Lollipop volunteer Jacqui Young with young patient Rosemahnie Amosa, 10, from Massey who is a big Radio Lollipop fan.
CHEERFUL SOUND: Radio Lollipop volunteer Jacqui Young with young patient Rosemahnie Amosa, 10, from Massey who is a big Radio Lollipop fan.

Jacqui Young is making soundwaves in Waitakere Hospital's new paediatric ward.

The Titirangi resident is part of the volunteer team spreading cheer amongst the youngsters in the new $3.2 million Rangatira ward through Radio Lollipop.

Radio Lollipop is an international children's hospital charity that began in the UK in 1978.

The service provides a 24 hour radio show broadcast to satellite stations around the world.

Radio Lollipop's been in New Zealand for the past 20 years and is based at Starship Children's Hospital.

As well as being a radio show, volunteers help provide one-on-one entertainment in the form of music, craft and games to children in the wards.

The Waitakere Hospital studio officially opened in July with invited guests including rugby legend and Blues coach Sir John Kirwan.

The studio is now ready to turn up the volume out West.

Ms Young was born at Waitakere Hospital and says after working with Radio Lollipop at Starship, she is excited to bring the organisation to West Auckland.

"We have a full radio studio in Starship and very soon we're hoping to be able to beam that into Waitakere.

"All the technology is there and the kids will soon be able to phone in and request songs, take part in competitions like make your best animal noise and things like that."

Ms Young and the team of eight others are looking for more volunteers to help make the hospital experience easier for young patients.

Every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm till 8pm, volunteers go out into the wards to entertain the young patients.

Staff nurse in the Rangatira ward Ofelia Cometa says Radio Lollipop makes such a difference in the ward.

"I can see the children are happy. It's really good therapy for them," she says.

"It would be great if eventually the team could do more than two nights because the children absolutely enjoy it and it helps to distract them."

Ms Young says the volunteers work with doctors and nurses to determine what children need cheering up on a particular day.

"The radio is our biggest toy in our toybox because it's exciting, interactive and the difference that the music makes is huge.

"We're very play-focused, fun-focused - we're the only ones who don't talk about medical problems and so the kids know we are there to make a scary and unknown environment more fun."

The station relies on funding and public donations and Ms Young says with more volunteers, the aim is to be able to work with children on the ward five nights a week.

"Play is something familiar to children and it is scientifically proven to help healing.

"It really does make a difference and my favourite thing is when we can make a child smile or laugh when they haven't for a while."

Western Leader