Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How an awful stay in Sydney Children's Hospital gave us a great business idea & a way of giving back

Our little man Jack in Sydney Children's Hospital with Dad - On the mend & inspiring mummy's business

Back in 2005 when our son Jack was only 22 months old, he tried to walk across the living room floor and fell over. Then he vomited. A day later we rushed a limp and very sick toddler to the local emergency ward where he was quickly transferred to the neurological team at Sydney Children's Hospital.

And so began an awful week that culminated with a 6 day stay at Sydney Children's Hospital while Jack battled a double dose of meningitis and encephalitis.

Fortunately he made a 100% recovery and, as little children often do, bounced back quite quickly. But even though he was sitting up in his hospital cot reading books and watching videos after a few days, we needed to stay in hospital until he was completely stabilised.

During the long days of play punctuated by many naps, my business partner Anne came and sat with me and we got quite a lot of planning work done for the business. On our way back from the cafe one lunch time, we walked through reception and stopped to look at the enormous board that listed the hospital's many sponsors, both corporate and local businesses.

Back on the ward, we walked past a room with a big sink, a massive pile of toys and a nurse up to her elbows in suds, washing all the toys by hand. She grimaced. Keeping the toys on the ward clean and germ-free was all part of the job.

We looked at each other and the idea hit us - the Play Panels would be perfect for hospital wards where they could be spray cleaned every day with minimal effort from the nurses, and wouldn't become lost or stolen. And instead of the hospitals paying for them, we could ask businesses to sponsor the Play Panels, adding a branded badge to each Play Panel so that the sponsors could get a little bit of advertising exposure in return.

Eight years later, we have over 120 Play Panels in 12 hospitals around Australia, sponsored by corporates such as Westfield, Huggies and Children's Panadol, and by many small local businesses such as gyms, osteopaths, pharmacies, cafes, photographers, even a web designer!

This was the first Play Panel we put into the Emergency Department of Sydney Children's Hospital in 2005. That little girl had just vomited and I think you can tell by my face that I was willing the photographer to hurry before the next bout!

So if you're a hospital and you'd like to be part of the program, or you have a business and would like to become a sponsor, we'd love to hear from you.

As a sponsor you are able to brand the Play Panel with your corporate logo, website or message so you’re not only doing something great for the kids, you’re also able to gain valuable brand reinforcement for your business.

It's a win-win-win situation for the hospital, the kids and your business.

You can learn more about the whole program by clicking here. Or call us and we'll happily talk you through it.

Kelly is your go-to gal on this project, so reach her on (02) 9984 0769 or We'd love to have you on board.

Child Friendly Solutions Hospital Sponsorship Program Details

PS. Jack recovered beautifully and is now a robust, rugby-wrangling, piano-playing ten year old!

Jack after his hospital stay
Jack our star rugby winger

Child Friendly Solutions has been assisting Australian retailers with in-store play solutions for 10 years including Big W, K-Mart, Westpac, Toyota and Forty Winks. You can find Child Friendly Solutions Play Panels, Play Tables and other play equipment, as well as lots of information on becoming a child friendly retailer, at 

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