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Fun loving Dean had patients laughing at jokes and enjoying his warm, energetic presence as he bounced around the Oncology Clinic and Camperdown and Variety Wards today. Bright yellow hair atop a friendly face and soft, cuddly body meant Dean, a puppet from Camp Quality, was an approachable companion for patients who were encouraged to relax and have a giggle.
“There are three puppets that visit hospitals and schools,” said Rodney Plashchik, a puppeteer, with one arm supporting Dean’s body. He was helped by Stanley Browning, with the comic duo’s upbeat antics providing a welcome diversion.
“Today we have Dean,” said Stanley. “Whose story is that his mum has cancer. But he also has two companion puppets who often visit as well. Kylie, who has leukaemia, and Melissa, their best friend.”
Lego is one of Camp Quality’s sponsors and each child received a Lego set to build after being entertained by Dean. The laughs and creative fun, during the visit, helped alleviate patient anxiety about hospital procedures and made a long day seem much shorter.
The puppets are effective communicators of messages that help strengthen the wellbeing of patients. They include that children in primary schools that patients attend don’t need to be scared of cancer as it ‘can’t be caught’, it is okay if children with cancer look different, and medicine is sometimes necessary for children with cancer.
Thursdays are fun days at Westmead thanks to the skills of puppeteers like Rodney and Stanley and their non-stop jokes and fun.
Find out more about Camp Quality’s free visits to patients’ primary schools.
Read more about Camp Quality’s camps and family resources.