It’s 9 a.m. and the first little patient is eagerly awaiting his sports lesson. We are in pediatric oncology, the two sports therapists have compiled the schedule for today’s patients and checked with the medical team that all children are fit to exercise today.
Off we go to the ward’s sports room. It is equipped with large and small sports equipment and accessories in bright colors. A bicycle is there for warm-ups, and 6-year-old Leo rides it for seven minutes because, so he says:
“Today I feel strong!”
Then he helps sports therapist Lena, with whom he has built up a relationship of trust, set up an exercise course across the sports room. There is a bit of everything: Balancing, climbing over soft building blocks, and a toss into the basketball hoop. The drip stand keeps moving along next to him, but Leo doesn’t let that distract him. Especially during slalom football training, he is completely focused on himself, and everything else literally falls away from him. All the hardships of recent times. Also the disappointment that he couldn’t watch his favorite team’s football game at the stadium because he wasn’t feeling well – even though it was his birthday present. He bravely states: “It’s ok because at least my brother was able to go in my place”. He misses his brother a lot, as well as his twin sister and his younger sister.
Finally, Leo asks Lena for a football match between small fold-up goals, and he easily defeats her. Exhausted but satisfied, he and his mother make their way back to their room on the ward.
The sports lesson is a most welcome change in everyday hospital life. It is designed to be fun for the children and motivate them to exercise regularly. Sports can give them an energy boost, especially after taking certain medications, when they are tired or in a bad mood. Even if the children store water, for example, and exercise is difficult but important, the sports therapists can motivate them to participate in playful activities. This is even possible in their room, should the way to the sports room not be possible.
The day takes its course. Altogether, four children receive their sports therapy today. The offer, which is in part financed by donations, is aimed at both inpatients and those who come to the clinic for an outpatient appointment. A big thank you for letting us participate in today’s sessions!
*Names have been changed by the editors.