When a child becomes seriously ill, family life becomes about fighting for survival: hospitals appointments, surgery, injections, the list goes on. Laughter is lost. Even when a child starts to get better physically, the psychological scars of their illness remain. Hospitals treat the illness but here at Barretstown we treat the child. Through our medically endorsed programme of Therapeutic Recreation, children start to rediscover the magic of being a child again.
They start to laugh again, they start to heal.
How Callum Lost His Laughter
Last year, at just 10 years of age Callum was diagnosed with Stage 4 Burkitts non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of cancer, so aggressive treatment had to begin immediately. Callum's mum Karen watched as her little boy changed from a colourful, happy child to a shadow. Six months of continuous intense treatment followed, with Callum spending nearly the whole time in hospital. He was so worried, he often didn’t want to talk about how he felt. And he never laughed.
Cancer had stripped the laughter and colour from their lives.Donate
Overnight our son had lost his laughter, and our world became a fight for his survival. It was terrifying.
I want to give:
Bringing Laughter Back
Karen, Callum's mum remembers 'When we arrived at Barretstown for the first time the activities and fresh air didn’t just put colour back in his cheeks, it put colour back in our lives. For the first time since Callum’s diagnosis, we felt like a family again. But to hear him laugh again felt like magic. We arrived at Barretstown almost broken. We left ready to face the world again.
Each time he drives through those gates, we know he will grow and laugh and be a happy child again. And a little bit more our old Callum comes back.'
The camps are not respite. They are repair.
The camps are not a holiday. They really are an essential part of recovery.
How You Can Help
For the month of June we are calling on everyone to help us bring laughter back into the life of a child living with a serious illness. At Barretstown we are all about serious fun. Laughter is such an important part of childhood, but a serious childhood illness often means there is no laughter for months, and sometimes years. In the words of our founder Paul Newman “healing doesn’t just happen in hospitals and laughter may very well be the best medicine”. Laughter has always been a hugely important part of camp and the Barretstown programme of Therapeutic Recreation. So can you help us bring laughter back for more families like Callum's who have been dealing with the impact of serious illness?Donate
The Impact of Your Donation
Joy & Magic
Our arts and crafts team are always on hand with paint, facepaint, crayons, craft paper, bracelet beads, feathers and everything you can imagine, to bring out the creative side in each child!
All of our camps and programmes are designed to respond directly to the needs of a child living with a serious illness – both clinical and psychological. Our unique model of challenge, discovery, reflection and success is recognised by paediatricians and psychologists all over the world as an important and necessary component of a child’s treatment.
The loss of control that many children and their families experience as a result of a serious illness can gradually erode confidence, diminish self-esteem, body image and coping skills. We aim to give this back by empowering and encouraging each individual to step out of their comfort zone and begin to re-build their confidence, trust and self-esteem and discover something new about themselves and their ability.
We believe that fun should be an integral part of what we do. Fun and laughter are key ingredients in improving the lives of those affected by serious illness.
Our outreach programme brings the playful spirit of Barretstown beyond the gates of our beautiful castle into hospitals and communities all over the country.