Charity funds new outdoor sensory space for sick children and their families
The space is a part of Disney UK’s ‘Moments that Matter’ social purpose approach
The Disney Reef, a colourful, underwater-themed outdoor play area has been opened at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
GOSH Charity Children’s Champion and TV presenter, Tess Daly, joined patients and their families as the new play and relaxation area was revealed for the first time.
Joining her was four-year-old patient, Elliott Livingstone, who received a heart transplant at GOSH in 2016 after a record 400 days on a mechanical ‘Berlin Heart’.
The Disney Reef, positioned in the heart of the hospital, was designed by Walt Disney Imagineers in collaboration with the hospital’s dedicated play team and patients.
It brings together special lights and sensory elements, as well as Disney favourites Mickey Mouse and Goofy, Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Hank from Finding Dory - all sculpted specifically for the project.
Every day, 618 seriously-ill children from across the UK arrive at GOSH, and for those who spend weeks, or even months, at the hospital, the Disney Reef will be a vital outdoor space where they can spend time with siblings and family members, making treasured memories.
Matthew Grossman, vice president of social responsibility for The Walt Disney Company in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “The Disney Reef will provide a comforting and inspirational space for the children GOSH cares for.
“In difficult times, such as serious illness, enabling children and families to spend quality time together helps build emotional resilience, giving them the strength and ability to cope.
“The Disney Reef will create moments that matter, and we’re excited to see the benefit and enjoyment it will bring.”
Since Walt Disney first visited Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1951, the two organisations have enjoyed a long history of working together to create moments that matter for seriously-ill children.
The Disney Reef forms part of a global commitment announced by Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive of The Walt Disney Company, in March to reimagine children’s patient journeys both in and out of hospitals – transforming hospital settings and experiences and creating moments that matter for children and those closest to them.
Great Ormond Street Hospital’s assistant chief nurse, Herdip Sidhu-Bevan, said: “This is a very special space where children can take some much-needed time outside away from the busy ward environment and where they can relax and enjoy themselves together with their families.
“The Reef’s design will accommodate patients with a wide range of conditions, and of all ages, so it’s truly inclusive and will be a fantastic addition to the hospital.”
Elliott’s mum, Candace Livingstone, added: “To officially open the Disney Reef was fantastic.
“Elliott loves ships and Disney and I know he’d have so enjoyed spending time here while we were staying in the hospital.
“I’m sure many families will see this as a haven, a place for their children to play and to relax. I know we’ll visit time and time again when we come back to GOSH for Elliott’s ongoing appointments.”
In 2008, Disney made an extraordinary commitment to raise £10m through the Disney Appeal for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, which concluded in 2014.
The company has an ongoing commitment to continue to deliver magical experiences for patients and their families from mini-premieres, to character and talent visits, to bedside screenings of Disney’s films and television shows.
The opening of The Disney Reef celebrates one of the future experiences patients will enjoy.