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 (PCH) 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 pre-school 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.”