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Classes in hospital for child patients with cancer

Mumbai: The Tata Memorial Hospital offers classes for its young cancer patients right on its premises and even arranges for them to go to a special school, which ensures that the children don’t face a gap in their studies.

The TMH paediatric facility, ImPaCCt Foundation, started this service in March this year. Classroom sessions and activities are carried out through this, which engage the minds of the children, making sure they can rejoin school easily after their treatment concludes, stated the hospital doctors on Tuesday.

TMH’s Paediatric and Medical Oncology Department HOD Dr Shripad Banavali said that a well-rounded approach was needed in the case of child patients, as only proper education would be able to make them an active part of the society once they were cured. Around 70 to 80 per cent children recover completely after treatment.

“We were nurturing the body, now we also nurture the mind,” he said.

The children in the ward can take part in a customised educational programme while short activities are carried out for those in the waiting area.

Mindsprings Enrichment Centre, which works with children having special learning needs, provides professional teachers for the hospital classes. Some of the child patients are also sent to Canshala, a Can Kids-run school situated on Elphinstone Road for children with cancer.

To ensure that the kids don’t miss a school year, Canshala even provides them with a certificate after treatment ends.

Teachers use non-verbal means of communication to overcome language barriers since children at TMH come from all over the country,” said Priya Iyer of Mindsprings, explaining that the programme was designed after a study on how to connect with these children.

During treatment, the shift from studies to hospital for children hampers their normalcy and “affects the child’s cognitive abilities due to lack of stimulation,” said Dr Banavali.

Each child patient is registered and a customised education plan is provided based on the child’s school and medium of instruction, said ImPaCCT Foundation Secretary Shalini Jatia. Individuals, corporates and NGOs, have all come together to make the programme a success through the Corporate Social Responsibility Arm.

Paediatric Oncology professor, Gaurav Narula said that classroom session had gained popularity with the children after the programme had matured for nine months.

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