Children & Hospital’s Play Area: Between Two Countries
By Nur Aimi Aqilah binti Abd Manan and Nur Sabrina binti Md Amin,
Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya
Are hospitals all over the world making playrooms and playgrounds with children’s needs in their minds? Well, almost all hospitals have playrooms or playgrounds for the children visiting or staying in the hospital to enjoy themselves in the otherwise bleak hospital. However, normal functioning children might enjoy themselves playing around in the designated area but for children with special needs, does the play area cater to their needs? In this article, we will be focusing on those aspects on two different hospitals from two different countries: Malaysia and Philippines.
Malaysia’s University of Malaya Medical Centre
University of Malaya Medical Centre is one of the biggest university hospitals in Malaysia. Aside it being one of the largest university hospitals in this country, it also serves to the public by providing a long list of facilities and necessities. Today, the focus will be towards the playgrounds or play spaces provided by the hospital in the paediatric building. Also, whether the playgrounds or play spaces tend to children with disabilities is an aspect that was taken into consideration. After a trip to the hospital, it can be assured that the paediatric building does provide a few good playgrounds and play spaces, inside and outside. Moving on to the first playground, it was situated outside the building. It looks like a typical one and the steps look quite safe for typical children but for children with physical disabilities? Debatable.
The next play space is situated inside the paediatric building next to the registration counter on the building. This play space seems a little safer for children with different types of conditions, mainly because it is smaller and can accommodate only small numbers of children at a time. However, it is still considered not suitable for children with disabilities because of the lack of playmats, they might get hurt and fall, even with the supervision by their loved ones.
Then, on the sixth floor of the same building, there is a mini library. The mini library is more of a play space instead of a library. The appearance of it at the first glance looks rather friendly and fits the aspect that is being investigated. Children with physical disabilities can safely play in the mini library as playmats are placed everywhere in the room. However, the space of the room is a bit limited, this might bring some difficulty for children with learning disabilities since small spaces isn’t really the best fit for a hyper active or child with ADHD
Next, the hospital provides a mini school inside the paediatric building. It is situated at the seventh floor of the said building. It is a school for the children who have missed school because of their condition or treatment time in the hospital. The pamphlet offered claimed the mini school to have a conducive atmosphere, as well as offering students to learn leisurely. The picture below suggests that it is a nice place for both special needs children and typical children to learn. However, the space is quite cramped with furniture and learning equipment making children with all types of disabilities hard to move.
Lastly, there is a huge play space situated at the eighth floor of the same building. This space is the most ideal for all type of children compared to the earlier ones before because the space is big and spacious. It comes with numerous books that the children can learn from, ranging from easy to hard ones. Overall, this play space caters to children of all ages and abilities as the space is filled with entertainment from toys to board games for them to play by themselves or with their parents.
Philippines’ Tebow CURE Hospital.
The Tebow CURE Hospital is built and ran by CURE International and funded by the Tim Tebow Foundation and can be located at Davao City in the Philippines. The hospital specializes in paediatric orthopaedic surgeries for conditions such as clubfoot and spinal deformities and gives physical and spiritual healing to the children. The five-story hospital is designed with children in mind, with colourful wall art, small furniture and facilities.
The Tebow CURE Hospital is also the home of the first international Timmy’s Playroom, a special space set aside where children who are patients at the hospital can take a break from medical treatment and enjoy being a kid. It is the sixth Timmy’s Playroom to open and the first to open outside of the United States. As we can see from the pictures, the children are either accompanied by their parents or the staff that is on duty of the playroom. Hence, the safety of the children are not something to worry about in the playroom.
The playroom was also decorated and equipped by the Tim Tebow Foundation, honouring Philippines-born athlete Tim Tebow and designed to look like a mini football field with chairs shaped like footballs. Putting the fun in staying in hospitals makes the children with disabilities to have a feel good time there. Through toys, video games, art or many other activities, Timmy’s Playrooms are an environment for relaxing and letting loose especially when the children there are mostly with physical disabilities and recovering from surgery.
The fully customized turf floors, wall wraps, custom lockers and fun football décor help patients take their minds off medical treatment and just be kids again. Children that uses wheelchairs to go out and about can roam around the room without difficulty as the playroom is spacious and the furniture placed in there are small and moveable ones making it easy to move around. However, being a small hospital, the play space is only limited to one but nonetheless, the playroom is quite big and well equipped.
With that comparison of two hospitals from Malaysia and the Philippines, we can see that the bigger the hospital, the more play space needed to cater for the number of children in the hospitals. Malaysia’s hospital tends to have many play spaces for the children to play around and even learn in since they even provide a mini school in the hospital so the children don’t fall behind in their studies. However, Philippines’ hospital made a bigger impact on the children if we see their playroom’s functionality and equipment. Although a small hospital but they fully use their resource to make the playroom with special needs children in mind while the one in Malaysia’s playground caters more towards children that do not have any physical disabilities. Nonetheless, the playrooms are quite disability friendly and very spacious for the children to play around with or without a disability. Both countries have their pros and cons when it comes to catering play spaces for disabled children but we can conclude that both hospitals have done well by providing play spaces for the children that stays in the hospital and help them recover if not physically, mentally they did help a lot.