A Day without Illness

Only happy faces

“Nigel and his big brother, Milan, really had a fantastic day. A big thank you to everyone who helped us!” “It’s great to see those smiles on the faces of the children.” This is how visitors reacted to how much fun the chronically ill children (and their brothers or sisters) had while taking a ride in a police car, handling the fire sprayer or role-playing as an emergency services provider.

The idea was somewhat taken from Rotterdam. There, Martijn Weyenberg saw that children who had long-term illnesses could step into the shoes of a firefighter, soldier or emergency medical technician during a day that was organised just for them. That should also be possible in Maastricht, Weyenberg thought. He asked around at the hospital and made contact with student associations. Circumflex and Saurus wanted to help, and so did the firefighters, law enforcement, water management, emergency medical services and the army.

Together, they committed to providing an unforgettable day for the participating children who are staying at Adelante in Valkenburg or at MUMC+ because of their illness. The emergency services vehicles, including pick-up trucks, a fire truck and motorbikes, picked up the children from the hospital. Then they set off through the Groene Loper to Adelante. There, the children were able to get on a hydraulic lift platform, spray water from a tanker and take a look inside an ambulance, for instance. This way, they could forget that they are sick.

The fact that the initiative received broad support was also apparent from the commitments of sponsors, who spontaneously arranged vlaai (a local pie), drinks and lunch and provided material and music. “This is the type of day that makes everyone happy”, Weyenberg says. That was at least the case for all of the students who had signed up to receive and guide the children, to serve lunch and to help with building and dismantling things. Weyenberg: “Everyone was able do what he or she likes. That already made it a successful day. And for Match, this is a creative way to bring students and the city together. “That sentiment was also shared by one of the people present, who commented on Facebook:

Good work Match Maastricht. I saw it at aZM, those faces are great, just goose bump. Top!  

It would be almost impossible to not hold ‘A day not sick’ again next year. “Events like this are increasingly being cut back on in healthcare. But if the students arrange it and there are enough volunteers, then it is also manageable for the emergency service providers. This way, everyone benefits.”

Text: Meyke Houben (Thuis in Maastricht)
Photography: Jean-Pierre Geussens (focus22)

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