The Bedtime Stories Initiative
The Bedtime Stories Initiative was founded in 2014 by Dr. Srikanth Rao Adidam Venkata. It all started during his rotations in Paediatrics as an intern in the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Centre (EWMSC). He noticed that the children on the wards seemed bored and missed the social activity they had in their classrooms or with their family. This inspired him to work towards making the ward more fun and less traumatizing to children. Thus, the Bedtime Stories Initiative was born. It is a charitable organisation under the umbrella of another one of his founding groups, the Art Society of Mt. Hope. This partnership has enabled the Bedtime Stories Initiative to grow significantly and become one of the well supported charities in the EWMSC and the Faculty of Medical Sciences.
Objectives and Target audience
The group members advocate for the patients of the paediatric wards and their families. Events are open for members of the medical faculty and the general public to attend the paediatric wards to interact with the children. This includes reading; playing; distributing food, toys and books; conducting puppet shows, sing-alongs, miniature plays and other fun activities.
The mission of the Bedtime Stories Initiative is fourfold. Firstly and most importantly, the group believes that the treatment of the patient should be holistic. This involves treating the mind as well as the body. This school of thought aims to make a patient’s stay as comfortable as possible.
Secondly, the exposure of the ward setting to preclinical medical students is essential. It augments their medical education and exposes them to patients without the stressors of exams. The experience fosters compassion, a trait medical students need in their careers. Opening the door for the general public to participate allows non-medical persons to observe the treatment of the patient. Their involvement reveals to them the day-to-day challenges that doctors, nurses and patients endure together. This additionally enlightens participants to the nature of the medical personnel-patient relationship.
Entertaining the children also aids in their recovery process. It inspires the child to remain in high spirits and maintain optimistic compliance, that is, taking medication and following doctors' advice. Additionally, play provides them with an outlet to relieve stress and socialise with others, as they may not consistently receive support when warded for extended periods of time. These simple acts empower and encourage them.
Finally, as a subcommittee of the Art Society of Mt. Hope, the Bedtime Stories Initiative seeks to highlight the artistic aspects of the charity, such as storytelling, an art form in its own right. With the advent of modern media, storytelling is fading away. By encouraging storytelling, the art form is preserved.
The most notable achievement thus far is the maintenance and organisation of the playroom, and restocking of the libraries on the ward, which have been tremendously large tasks. The Bedtime Stories Initiative also assists with the annual Christmas treat, where gifts of toys and books are given to the patients on the paediatric ward.
The Bedtime Stories Initiative also collaborates with the Art Society of Mt. Hope to host an annual art gala aimed towards raising funds for the needs of the hospital.
The message I, Dr. Venkata, would like to share is:
Sometimes time is more valuable than money. Spending a couple hours on one day of the week would mean the world to a young child who is having the worst month of his or her young life. I would like to see greater involvement from the general public. I would also like to cultivate more entertainment and educational activities for the paediatric ward.
Supporting Our Cause
On activity days, volunteers are briefed before proceeding to the ward. Events take place on Thursdays; based on the academic calendar and availability of volunteers. For more information or to be a part of the Bedtime Stories Initiative, visit them on Facebook at the The Bedtime Stories Initiative. Alternatively, you can call (868) 733 4828 for more information.
The next art gala will be hosted on March 3rd 2016 at One Woodbrook Place. For more information, call (868) 733 4828 or check out the Facebook page: The Art Society of Mt. Hope.