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In collaboration with the CHC of Liège and the Foundation against cancer, the “Gym & Joy” program aims to encourage physical activity for children with cancer in the hospital and at home.
A physical education teacher, integrated into the caregiver team, supervises the child from the start of his medical treatment. Thanks to a ludic methodology, specifically developed for this project, it offers exercises of growing intensity targeting lower body, upper body, core, and overall psychomotricity.
He/she defines with the child and the family an adapted and progressive program which can be practiced in total safety at the hospital as well as at home. Collective workshops are also offered to reinforce in a playful way, the social and relational dimensions of sport.
To strengthen the program, CHC, in collaboration with the Justine Henin Foundation, plans to build a multi-sports field adjacent to the hospital.


The Foundation’s contribution

The Foundation will take action on two levels to ensure the optimal and sustainable implementation of the project. It will provide:
On one hand, skills patronage (project management): the Foundation provides the CHC with a project coordinator to ensure the implementation of the Gym & Joy program, especially by associating all the protagonists of the program (hospital management, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, etc.)
On the other hand, funding for the construction of an outdoor multi-sports ground. This infrastructure will be built right next to the hospital paediatric aisle which will allow children to practice sports in a safe environment while avoiding the transport which often turns out to be challenging for them.

The impact

The Gym & Joy project is currently being implemented in the following departments: the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Department, the Weight Clinic and the Psychosocial Department. There is a high demand for physical activity programs among their patients.
The project reaches about 100 children per year.
For example, CHC’s pediatric hematology-oncology service currently cares for an average of 30 new pediatric cancer patients per year. In addition to these, we estimate that approximately 20 children with relapsed or other chronic hematological conditions or prolonged sequelae of the disease or treatment will also benefit from the project each year.

Benefits for the child

The Gym & Joy project is the result of a long process of reflection and research, particularly concerning physical activity in children with cancer.

The disease and anti-cancer treatments are associated with adverse effects on the osteo-muscular and cardio-pulmonary systems and on psychological well-being, particularly through excessive fatigue and deterioration of body image. These effects are also similar for children in the Weight Clinic or the psychosocial service.
Several studies have shown the positive role of physical activity in the prevention of complications and in the short and long term rehabilitation of patients

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