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Saturday, 19 September 2020


New online platform launched to entertain heart heroes during lockdown

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CHILDREN’S Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) has launched a new online platform with fun activities for children to enjoy at home during these uncertain times. The charity is appealing to all children who have a heart condition and have had treatment at the Freeman Hospital to get in touch so they can access it.

The Beat Squad is free to subscribe to and has an exciting collection of interactive videos, engaging activities and ideas of things to do – all designed to bring smiles to the faces of Heart Heroes. This includes colouring-in sheets, storytime videos, sing-alongs, interactive treasure hunts and much more.

The platform has been created in partnership with TIN Arts and developed in just six weeks, in response to the changing needs of Heart Families having to spend more time at home due to COVID-19.

These families include those with some of the most poorly babies and children in the North East with heart conditions which CHUF supports, known as Heart Heroes. Many of which are at high risk of infection so will be self-isolating or could be in hospital awaiting a life-saving operation.

The Clown Doctors visiting a patient on the Children’s Heart Unit

CHUF hopes the platform can offer a distraction, entertainment and some light relief from the current climate. Although it was designed with Heart Families in mind, anyone is welcome to use it.

The content is inspired by The Clown Doctors programme which CHUF has funded for over 13 years. The Clown Doctors visit the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital twice a week to provide one to one support to the children, lifting their spirits and supporting their care. Due to new safety restrictions to protect those in hospital from Covid-19, these visits aren’t able to take place in person, however, children can access the support of The Clown Doctors virtually as well as this new online platform.

CHUF and TIN Arts had already been exploring ways to take The Clown Doctors virtual so they could engage with Heart Heroes at home before the pandemic hit, with The Beat Squad project originally planned to take 10 months. However, they knew they had to act fast once lockdown commenced and young people with heart conditions went into self-isolation across the UK.

Dr Lulu McDoo, one of The Clown Doctors

Charlotte Campbell, Director of Fundraising and Operations at CHUF, said:

“The Clown Doctors programme is hugely popular with patients during their time in hospital, allowing them to forget about their condition, smile, laugh and most importantly feel like children. As soon as the pandemic hit we recognised that children in self-isolation could benefit from something like this, and with the fantastic team at TIN Arts created The Beat Squad.

“The platform allows children to experience, share and create. The content is designed to captivate their imagination and stimulate their minds, helping them to forget about what is going on in the world at the moment. We really do hope it makes a difference to families and our Heart Heroes and would love to hear what they think.”

For more information on The Beat Squad and to subscribe visit https://thebeatsquad.co.uk/.

CHUF is currently fundraising a minimum of £15,000 over the next eight weeks to support its response to Covid-19. To donate to CHUF online visit www.chuf.org.uk/donate/make-a-donation/. One-off donations of £5, £10 or £15 can also be made by texting ‘HEART 5’, ‘HEART 10’ OR ‘HEART 15’ to 70470.

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