There are reasons why we set up Fletcher’s Fund and there are reasons why we focus our efforts and work in particular areas. I hope that the following will explain a bit about the Arts and Craft Bags, the grants to families and our other activities.
Leanne has a degree in primary education with a special interest in inclusion and so we know how important play is in childhood development.
Play is crucial
It is through play that young children begin to make sense of themselves and the world around them. From exploring their fingers and toes to making constructions with building blocks, all these activities build up a child’s internal picture of the world.
Play is essential for healthy brain development – children start to learn and understand through play. Creativity is also developed through play – children explore different approaches, combinations and possibilities, encouraging them to think in new ways. Play can help to deal with stress – young children can become absorbed in their play, helping give them much needed breathing space from whatever problems there are in their ‘real world’.
For children in hospital all this is perhaps even more vital. If a child is confined to a hospital ward they need the stimulation and enjoyment of play activities even more. It supports the development of all sorts of aspects of their life:
- Family bonds – affection, laughter, trust and physical closeness all help to build up the bonds between the significant adult and child.
- Language development – including taking turns and social skills as well as actual vocabulary like colours, prepositions and positional language.
- Hand-eye coordination, balance and general motor skills – an understanding of, and control of, what their body can and cannot do.
Play is incredibly important on paediatric oncology wards to help the children understand their illness, to understand their treatment and also as a distraction. Play helps to keep part of lives as normal as possible, when everything else in their lives has changed. This is where the play teams on the wards come into their own. Along with the nurses and other medical staff, the play team is a very important part of these wards, and they are incredible people.
Children are naturally creative, curious and imaginative. Just take a look at the healthy children in your life - they’re likely to be drawing, painting, creating with some medium – even using Lego to build fantastic creations.
Art is already a huge part of children’s normal development – exploring colours, mixing, texture, medium – and it can play a positive part in the life of a sick child.
Hospital can be a scary place for a child, and they may be shy, reluctant, too scared or not have the language skills to convey their concerns to their caregivers. Art can give them freedom to express those concerns, to communicate their fears and to develop an understanding of their new circumstances.
It can be a fabulous distraction, used by the child to escape their real world for a while, even just when they are simply bored.
It can be a way for a family to bond together, through the process of creating a piece of art work – or to create precious memories together, for example by taking each family members hand or footprints as a snapshot of that moment in time.
This is why we are committed to supporting the paediatric oncology wards throughout the UK in their play provisions. By supporting the play teams with our art and craft bags, we aim to help the children in isolation to alleviate boredom, give freedom to express themselves and offer the family opportunities to play, create and bond together during the most testing of times.
And more. We are planning for the future to create bags that are more suitable for younger and older children in hospital. Through sensory bags for babies, we intend to support the sensory and heuristic needs of young babies – and our bags for teenagers will recognise that the needs of teenagers are different again with different priorities but still addressing many of the same issues of boredom, creative outlet and distraction.
Our mission is to help a minimum of 10,000 children to make memories, play and have fun.
The idea for Fletcher’s Fund was borne from the desire to give him a legacy, to ensure that his life wasn’t in vain, and that he would be remembered. So he would continue to be loved, and to live through the charity that bears his name. It was borne from grief.
It grew then into wanting to teach Fletcher’s little brother about him, to teach Cooper, and our friend’s and family’s children, about charitable work and about working hard to achieve a dream. It became a teaching tool.
We want to give back to the world we were so suddenly thrust into, that became our life. We want to reach as many families with children with cancer as possible, to provide relief of the financial burden on them, to enable them to make precious memories together. We want to provide joy, laughter, love and memories.
It is about hope. It is about ambition, positivity, passion and dedication. We are on a journey to share our story and work to achieve our aims.
And we won’t stop, even when we reach our target of helping 10,000 children and their families. Whilst there is a need for us, and what we do, we will be here to offer a helping hand in the darkness.
We are Team Fletcher – do you want to be a part of our dream?