Sick children should be able to play too

Design School Kolding and Aabenraa Hospital have designed a new outdoor space for hospitalised children

Recently, Hospital Sønderjylland opened a new outdoor space called ”Lysningen” (”The Clearing”); a breathing space for hospitalised children to forget their worries and just play. As the name indicates the space intends to take the children’s minds to a lovely clearing somewhere in the woods.

- When you are sick, you should still be able to have fun, pedagogue Anne Hakanowitz says. She works in the hospital’s pediatric ward. And indeed play is a very special ingredient when you create and design.

Responsible for creating the space is PhD student Anne Corlin from Design School Kolding. She does research in socially sustainable housing areas focusing on shared spaces. And the outdoor space is only the first step. Anne Corlin is already working on an outdoor exercise space, climbing boards and sensory spaces. Anne Corlin talks about the collaboration:

- The hospital staff wished to incorporate the outdoor spaces to achieve a holistic approach to treating the children and the youths. Through interviews with staff and children and staff workshops we have tried to create a project that meets the staff’s wishes regarding possibilities for treatment and observation and which reflects Design School Kolding’s attitude to play as an important factor in and of itself.

Play matters
At Hospital Sønderjylland in Aabenraa they are thrilled about the project and agree that play is a human right for young and old.

- Play matters. When we play, we experience the present and life is meaningful. We play because we want to and because it is fun. Play allows us to grow and to challenge and explore who we are. Involving Design School Kolding in the project added the design perspective and a more elaborate approach to play, which were crucial for realizing the project, says Grete Kirketerp, medical director at Hospital Sønderjylland.

The project is funded by Trygfonden, Spar Nord Fonden and Kronprins Frederiks og Kronprinsesse Marys fond. The Region of Southern Denmark also granted an advance to the project. Next step is to apply for more funds to expand the outdoor space.