The colour, the brightness and the atmosphere is what hit me as I walked into the Starlight Express Room at the Randwick Children’s Hospital. It was a big change from the stark white walls and quiet corridors of the rest of the hospital. It was immediately evident that this is a special place.
There was a boy in the corner playing the drums, a big smile on his face. A giant screen fills up one side of the room and a mother and her baby were sitting in one of the many coloured beanbags, watching a movie. There was a craft table, musical instruments, a wall of televisions hooked up to video games, toys and music. It’s a pretty cool place.
We met the two Captain Starlights on duty – Captain Curly and Captain Hip Hop – and they gave us a tour of the room. Then it was craft time! We sat with a little girl, colouring in, talking and making ‘shrinky dinks’ (I made a care bear). As we got all crafty, the daily Starlight Room quiz took place. Run by Captain Hip Hop, the quiz is broadcast to the hospital rooms of those kids who are too sick to make it to the Starlight Room. The kids are able to phone in with their answers. It’s during the quiz that we met a 12 year old boy who has been in and out of the Randwick Children’s Hospital for several years. He was hilarious, putting on funny voices and different accents each time he dialed in with an answer – you could tell he was enjoying himself.
After some more craft and a few games of ‘Go Fish’, it was time to go. As I helped Captain Curly tidy up the room ready to be enjoyed by another group of kids the next day, I realized just how special a space the Starlight Room is and how important it is in the lives of these kids and their families. This is a place where kids can go to escape, to feel normal, to play, to have fun and to just be kids.
Inside this room there are no doctors, no medicine and no talk of surgery, treatment or being sick – it’s a place to escape from all of that. Kids can go there to have fun, to get away from their hospital room, to interact with other kids and parents get to have a break, relax a little and see a smile on their child’s face.
My trip to the Starlight Express Room made me realise just how important the work we do at raize the roof is and how what we do does make a difference – to the many children that find themselves living in hospital.
It was really great to experience first hand how much of an impact the Starlight Room, and the Starlight Foundation, has on sick kids and their families, and I got to meet some awesome and inspirational children along the way.