Children with brain tumours and other life threatening conditions are set to have a happier time in hospital thanks to the fundraising efforts of students at Darlington College.
Students on the BTEC level three supporting teaching and learning in schools course came together to raise money in the name of Rosa Johnson, who is being treated for leukaemia.
Rosa and her family, from Bishop Middleham, in County Durham, have been regular visitors to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle since she was diagnosed at the age of two last November.
Her mum Danielle is a business development adviser at Darlington College and when the students heard about Rosa they decided to raise money to support children’s causes with which the family are involved.
Fourteen students, supported by their tutor Gill Raw, teamed up to take part in a sponsored Princess Parade walk from the college to Archers ice cream parlour at Walworth and to raffle hampers and other prizes in the town centre.
They raised £1,300, most of which has been used to buy sensory toys for the children’s oncology ward at the RVI.
Some of the students, together with Danielle, Rosa and their course assessor Shelley Gill, travelled to the hospital to present the new toys.
Danielle said: “I was overwhelmed that the students, having heard about Rosa through my colleagues, wanted to do something to help, even though they didn’t know me. I did a presentation about Rosa and us as a family so they’d understand more, and to thank them.”
Danielle added: “The hospital told me that they’re seeing more children with brain tumours and they need sensory toys because the children’s condition impacts on their mobility.
“The students have worked really hard to raise the money. We hear a lot of negative stuff about young people but this is an incredible group of young adults who decided to do this in their own time, going above and beyond.”
She added that she wanted the students to visit the hospital to hand over the toys personally so they could see what a difference they would make, and to meet some of the patients and their families.
“The next step on their pathway from level three might be to become play workers somewhere like the RVI so I also thought it would be useful for them in terms of career development,” she added.
Student Samantha Hutchinson, 19, said: “Getting to know Dani and Rosa has brought it a lot closer to home. I’ve got family members who’ve had cancer but it seems worse when it’s a child.”
Aimee Read, 21, added that the students had fun on their sponsored walk, dressing as princesses from Rosa’s favourite Disney movies, including Sleeping Beauty, Belle and Cinderella.
The regular chemotherapy Rosa has been having at home and in hospital since November is having a positive result and the prognosis is good. She even seems unaffected by contracting chicken pox, which meant a week in isolation in hospital.
Danielle, who with husband Colin has another daughter Jasmine, five, added: “She has hit ‘maintenance’, which is a significant step. Under a microscope the doctors can’t see any leukaemia cells now but the chemotherapy will continue until January 2018 to get rid of any hidden affected cells and prevent relapse.
“We’ve been told for a child of her age, gender and genetic make-up there is a 90 per cent cure but we don’t take the ten per cent for granted as things could change at any time.”