THE Royal Oldham Hospital is celebrating play to highlight how vital it is in the treatment of sick children.

The hospital is marking national Play Week by bringing lots of fun to its youngest patients all this week until October 14 with activities ranging from stories and songs to crafts and biscuit decorating.

Louise Gallagher, hospital play specialist at the Royal Oldham said: “It’s generally accepted that play is a vital part of the growth and development of all children. It helps them to learn, explore, develop relationships and make sense of the world around them. For children and young people in hospital, this can be even more important to their overall health and wellbeing.

“Play can really make a difference to children in hospital. When children are admitted to hospital, they are often separated from their family, friends and normal surroundings and this can be a time when they feel most vulnerable. Having fun and getting involved with play activities can help reduce some of the stress and anxiety children feel about being in hospital.

“Play in hospital can help children in many ways. It can help them understand why they are in hospital and what will happen. It allows them to express their feelings and it can help them understand more about their illness and treatment, and help them to recover more quickly.”

The play team are also planning a fun-packed Christmas for sick children in Oldham and are currently fundraising to ensure a magical Christmas for children and their families over the festive period.

They are teaming up with two local theatres – Talespin Theatre, who will be performing Jack in The Beanstalk on December 20 and Grand Dame Theatre, which will be performing Oliver on December 22.

There are also visits planned from other children’s entertainers including Wacky Woody, a children’s musician and entertainer and Everybody Party, a local party company, who will bring lots of fun with face painting, dance, lights and play.