Kids will always need a place to be kids. To play, connect, and laugh with friends. But for children with weakened immune systems, they were restricted to the hospital or their home; isolated for their own protection.
Amanda Winn, founder of the Children’s Healing Center (CHC), was one of those sick kids. In October 2009, just before her 22nd birthday, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a life threatening blood cancer. During her time spent at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Amanda got to know many children and their families who were also looking for a way to bring some normalcy back to their lives. She began to ask, “What if there was a way to give these patients and their siblings joy and companionship?” The vision was the creation of the CHC – a place where kids can be kids again.
Inside the 7,000 square foot center, kids and their families are immediately greeted by playful colors and a welcoming staff. They have taken every precaution for the safety and wellbeing of each child that walks through their doors – the space conforms to hospital-grade technical requirements, including: HEPA air filtration, filtered tap water, microbial-resistant surfaces, no carpeting or other materials that harbor germs, easy-to-clean toys and programming materials, strictly controlled cleaning and infection policies, and a highly trained staff.
Open since June 2015, over 35 families are currently enjoying the variety of scheduled activities and free play time the CHC offers, and attendance continues to grow as more families are traveling from outside West Michigan to visit the CHC. The children participate in activities such as group exercise class, dance class, art class, a reading group, movie nights, and many more. Knowing they are in a safe space, each child feels empowered to be themselves, have fun, and enjoy life.