September's Neptune Project was all about helping the children at the Heart Centre for Children at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.
The Psychology team at the Heart Centre for Children supports children and their families throughout cardiac diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. The children they work with vary, from newborn babies and young children who need heart surgery, to children awaiting a heart transplant, as well as adolescents coping with growing up with heart disease and getting ready to transition to adult cardiac services.
In September 2020, we were delighted to donate a variety of Neptune weighted toys to the Psychology team at the Heart Centre for Children. This gives the children who work with the Psychology team at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick the chance to have their own weighted toy for use in therapy.
Of course, the people who make all this happen are the Clinical Psychologists, whose role it is to support children and their families.
Diane Oake, Clinical Psychologist at the Heart Centre for Children, told us how the weighted toys help children engage in therapy, saying, “Weighted toys are well recognised for helping children to self-soothe and regulate their emotions.”
“Some children can find it particularly difficult to regulate their emotions in a stressful or highly stimulating environment. Imagine a child who is already anxious, coming to back to the hospital where they have experienced multiple medical procedures,” Oake explains, “They can feel overwhelmed just coming back into the hospital.”
“Enter the weighted toy!” Oake exclaims, “A weighted toy can be very calming for a distressed child. The child cuddles the toy across their lap, and the sensory experience provided by the weight of the toy can help the child feel settled and therefore more able to engage in their therapy.”
Oake adds that the benefits of the weighted toys will be felt throughout the hospitals, saying, “For many years we did not have weighted toys available for use in child therapy. Our initial furry friend was a toy doggy with a wheat bag sewn inside for weight. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible to share soft toys among children in the therapy setting, so we lost an important therapeutic resource.”
“We were looking at buying a few weighted toys to provide to the children most in need. Miraculously, the team at Neptune Blankets responded with an extremely generous donation of toys, making it possible to offer a toy to children who will benefit. Children seen by our team will now be able to have their own toy for use in therapy and to keep when their therapy is complete,” Oake adds.
You can find out more about the great work the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network does, here.