Broad­cast­ing good news

Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - News - Lau­ren Pi­lat

NEXT month marks the end of an era for a vol­un­teer-led char­ity that has sup­ported thou­sands of sick chil­dren and their fam­i­lies in WA for more than three decades.

Ra­dio Lol­lipop launched in WA at Princess Mar­garet Hos­pi­tal 33 years ago and will start op­er­at­ing from its new home at Perth Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal on Sun­day, June 10.

In 1985, PMH was the first lo­ca­tion out­side the UK where Ra­dio Lol­lipop op­er­ated vol­un­teer-run ward vis­its and 24-hour ra­dio broad­cast ser­vices to en­ter­tain and dis­tract sick chil­dren in hos­pi­tal through mu­sic and play.

Australia direc­tor Kristi Clarke, of Suc­cess, said Ra­dio Lol­lipop was strongly em­bed­ded in the com­mu­nity and the move would pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to build on that legacy to sup­port thou­sands more WA fam­i­lies.

“Our vol­un­teers will have ac­cess to some of the best broad­cast­ing tech­nol­ogy and our of­fice is the first mod­ern fa­cil­ity we have had for more than 15 years,” she said.

“For the first time in WA, Ra­dio Lol­lipop will also be stream­ing a mu­sic chan­nel specif­i­cally pro­grammed to cater to tod­dlers and preschool chil­dren.”

With 150 vol­un­teers, Ra­dio Lol­lipop vis­its sick chil­dren ev­ery night in eight hos­pi­tals, in­clud­ing Fiona Stan­ley, Joon­dalup, Rock­ing­ham, Armadale, St John of God Mid­land, St John of God Mur­doch and Kal­go­or­lie. Ms Clarke said ward vis­its re­flected the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion’s be­lief in the heal­ing power of mu­sic and play.

“For two hours each day, our vol­un­teers give chil­dren a choice and a wel­come dis­trac­tion in what can of­ten be a trau­matic and lonely time,” she said.

“Our ra­dio broad­casts are built around the re­quests of the chil­dren and en­able the kids to imag­ine they are places other than their hos­pi­tal bed. We play games and take craft, com­pe­ti­tions and other ac­tiv­i­ties to the chil­dren on the wards; it pro­vides a sense of nor­mal­ity to sick chil­dren for whom play is a very im­por­tant part of life.”

Ms Clarke said the role of

Ra­dio Lol­lipop vol­un­teers was in­valu­able and pro­vided much-needed breaks for par­ents and hos­pi­tal staff.

“Our vol­un­teers will play the mu­sic and games that make the chil­dren happy, bring a smile to their face and change their mood,” she said.

“We have seen gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren re­turn as vol­un­teers and while we would love there to be no sick chil­dren, ever, we in­tend to be there to en­ter­tain many, many more from our new home at PCH.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d482973

Ra­dio Lol­lipop vol­un­teers Stephanie Blake, Jus­tine “Jelly Bean” Gabriele and Richard Elk­ing­ton.

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