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Wondero looks like a superhero in his stylish red outfit, which is fitting, as the children he was created to help are heroic in how they endure medical procedures such as bone marrow transplants and receiving central lines.
Authors Cathy Quinn and Lisa Carnovale, Child Life Therapists in the Cancer Centre for Children at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, developed the appealing, wide-eyed character after noticing a lack of positive age appropriate resources, using Australian terminology, available to children undergoing procedures.
“We were regularly asked by families and other health care professionals if we had books explaining different medical treatments or procedures for children,” remembers Lisa Carnovale.
“We spent some time researching, and searching oncology children’s books, about medical procedures and treatments that children in our unit go through such as getting a central line, having bone marrow transplants, and having radiation therapy treatment and found there was not a lot on offer.”
Teaming with illustrator Cheryll Johns, they resolved to produce a fictional character able to be used in a series of educational books using friendly, approachable and engaging stories.
“We wanted the books to encourage resilience and allow children to gain some control and stay positive,” said Lisa. “We wanted them to include affirmations, word definitions, and practical stress reducing and coping techniques. “
After many hours of writing, designing and editing, and support by Camp Quality and the Kids with Cancer Foundation, the books were printed, with every Oncology family in the Cancer Centre now able to receive one for free.
Wondero has encouraged children to share their thoughts, feelings and concerns with staff and loved ones and the feedback has been very positive.
“Parents often say that their child can really relate to the Wondero character and finds joy and comfort in things like Wondero also has a central line like them, or how he has his blood pressure taken,” said Lisa. “They also say the book has helped them understand their child’s cancer journey and has been a great springboard to talk to their child about what is happening.”
Wondero’s creators are delighted at the success of their books, said Lisa, and to be able to help “the amazing and courageous children we work with.”
Oncology families in the Cancer Centre can get a Wondero book for free. Find out more.