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National Child Day – The Power of Play and Recreation

By the CFMWS Communications Team –

“On Dec. 20, 2015 at the age of 10, Janelle was diagnosed with High Risk Stage 3 Favourable LOH+ Wilms Tumour. (a form of Kidney Cancer).  She’s been through surgery, 12 rounds of radiation, and 33 weeks (11 cycles) of chemotherapy.” – Liane Haviland, Janelle’s mother.

Like many kids her age, Janelle attends a camp over the summer, but during the summer of 2016, Janelle was undergoing treatment for her cancer, which made it impossible for her to attend the Winnipeg PSP sports camp, something she was looking forward to.  Before her cancer diagnosis, Janelle was an energetic kid who loved the sports themed camp, where a different sport was played every week.

Studies have shown that recreation, sports and play are integral to building resilience in children, and that by participating in activities they are able to develop core characteristics that will help overcome challenges.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017, with her treatment complete Janelle was able to attend camp.  However, there were some concerns as her treatment had left her weak and with no stamina.  The PSP Recreation staff encouraged Janelle’s parents to send her with a promise that they would take good care of her.

That promise turned out to be the best thing for her.  The counsellors encouraged her and pushed her a little more every day.  They found appropriate ways for her to be able to participate in all the activities, ensured she had time to rest when needed and took special care to keep her well hydrated.

By the end of the summer, Janelle’s stamina and energy levels had greatly improved, so much so that even her oncologist was impressed. She is now going on two years in remission.

“The fact that PSP Rec staff encouraged us to send her and were willing to go above and beyond to work with her is huge.  We are very thankful for them and the help they provided.  They are now encouraging our daughter to become a volunteer for camp in 2020 when she will be 14 and too old to attend.  Now due to her positive experience with the camp and the counsellors, she can’t wait” said Liane Haviland.

Every year on November 20th, National Child Day is recognized across the globe, giving children the opportunity to have a voice, be protected from harm and be provided with their basic needs to reach their full potential.  These rights include the promotion and participation in cultural, artistic, and recreational and leisure activities.

“Janelle’s story is one of many we hear,” says Ryan Cane, PSP Senior Manager Recreation Program and Community Services.  “Across the country at all of our Bases and Wings, children from military families are building their resiliency when they participate in our programs and work with our specially trained coaches and instructors.”

To celebrate National Child Day and the integral role that PSP Recreation plays in the physical, emotional, social and cognitive development of children from CAF families, PSP on bases and wings will be hosting a free creative workshop for children in their community on Saturday, 17 November, 2018.  The art the children will create will be on display at the National War Museum on 28 November, 2018.

For more information and to register visit CAFConnection.

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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