What The Starlight Challenge is all about

PUBLISHED: 10:12 02 August 2009 | UPDATED: 23:55 15 June 2010

Helping seriously ill children to realise their dreams.

Helping seriously ill children to realise their dreams.

Copyright Archant Ltd

In next week s Herald, we will be highlighting a special event, taking place in September, which has been organised to help children s charity the Starlight Foundation. Read the story below and return to the website next week...

In next week's Herald, we will be highlighting a special event, taking place in September, which has been organised to help children's charity the Starlight Foundation.

Read the story below and return to the website next week to find out all about The Starlight Challenge.

After reading Starlight grants the wishes of a lifetime for seriously and terminally ill children and entertains some 500, 000 children with fun and laughter in hospitals and hospices throughout the UK

All Starlight's activities are aimed at distracting children from the pain, fear and isolation they can often feel as a result of their illness and at strengthening family bonds at what is often a time of great stress.

When Starlight began in 1987, it granted just 4 children's wishes; Last year (2008) Starlight granted 400 wishes and helped over 500,000 children all over the UK.

A Starlight wish gives children a fun decision to make at a time when most decisions need to be made for them. A wish remains a positive focus throughout long periods of treatment or recuperation and is often remembered as the turning point in the child's illness. Where possible mums, dads, brothers and sisters are involved in the wish to help strengthen family bonds and gives everyone in the family happy memories to share, no matter what the future may hold.

At any one time, Starlight has over 300 children waiting for their wishes to be granted. Examples of the kind of wishes the charity has recently granted wishes include a little girl who wanted 3 stars named after her and her brother and sister so that they would be able to talk to her after she had gone to heaven; to a young girl with leukaemia who wanted to bake a cake for the queen; to a young teenage boy with osteosarcoma who wanted a laptop so that whilst he was stuck in hospital he could stay in touch with his friends to the dream of young four year old with a brain tumour who wanted to be team mascot for Manchester City and meet all the players.

If Starlight had just one wish itself, it would be that cures could be found for all the terrible illnesses that can afflict children. Until then, the charity will continue to provide important medicines of another sort: excitement, fun and laughter.

Starlight also provides entertainment for children in hospitals to distract them from the pain, fear and isolation they feel as a result of their illness; entertainment for children in hospitals includes parties, 'escapes' out of hospital and the provision of Starlight Fun Centres - mobile entertainment units incorporating a TV, video player and games consoles.

It is widely believed that happy children get better quicker. Medical research has shown that laughter helps to relax children and this has a significant impact on how they deal with pain. Starlight Fun Centres, hospital parties, hospital outings, distraction boxes and once in a lifetime wishes are designed to address this need.

Dr Antony Michalski, Consultant Children's Cancer Specialist and a member of Starlight's medical council said "We can treat a child's illness, we can work to make a child better, but it is difficult to make a child happy at this time: this is what Starlight does best


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