A children’s charity has launched a magazine designed for children with heart conditions to help support their mental health when undergoing treatment at Evelina London.
ECHO (Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation), which provides support for children and young people with heart conditions and their families, developed the magazine with the help of young people and the psychology and cardiology teams at Evelina London.
The magazine, which is aimed at children aged 10 and under, is called Eddie & Friends, named after Eddie the ECHO teddy bear mascot.
It includes tips to help children cope with the stresses of being in hospital, as well as various activities such as hospital iSpy, word searches and stickers.
Samantha Johnson, Chief Executive of ECHO, said the magazine was developed in response to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased the isolation faced by patients and parents and meant that a lot of the fun activities in hospital were reduced.
“We hope that Eddie & Friends will provide a relaxing distraction. It includes practical resources to help children talk with their grown-up or cardiac nurses about how they are feeling, helping them feel less worried about staying in hospital.”
Cecilia Adamou, 22, who has a congenital heart condition and had a heart transplant at the age of 11, helped with the creation of Eddie & Friends.
She surveyed children with heart conditions and used her own experience to come up with the ideas, such as explaining the machines in hospital and the All About Me section.
“I spent about two years in total in hospital over my childhood and would have loved this magazine,” said Cecilia. “Hospital is boring. It would have been a nice thing to sit and do with my mum while I was stuck in a hospital bed. I would have loved to go back and see what I wrote in the All About Me section.”
George, aged 7, who was born with several heart conditions, said: “I love it! There’s lots to do. I enjoyed the jokes, they made me laugh. I like the stickers and the interesting facts. My favourite was reading that a python’s heart can double in size to help digest its food! The activities were really fun too.”
Hannah, George’s mum, said: “Hospital stays can be tedious. Hours can feel like days and often many of our children get bored easily, especially if bedridden. It can be hard as parents to get 5 minutes to grab a hot drink, have some quiet time or even try to discuss your child’s health with the doctors due to needing to occupy the children. This magazine gives that, it engages the children to give us those few moments to think or discuss those important matters.”
‘It’s great to have this for our patients and families, it’s perfectly pitched and a really innovative way of informing and involving them in their care”, said Dr Aaron Bell, Consultant Paediatric Cardiology, Head of Service, Evelina London.
“This magazine is great and super fun and will put a smile on children at the hospital”, said Jenny Somer, Ward Sister, Evelina London.
The magazine will be available for free for all cardiac patients receiving treatment at the Evelina London, and their siblings.
It will also soon be distributed to the Royal Brompton and 46 network hospitals across the South-East.
Pictured: Evelina London Children’s Hospital