21 October 2021 Featured News

Zayden’s legacy: play for all

A Queensland Children’s Hospital patient has left a lasting legacy for other sick kids thanks to an inclusive play program we funded.

Zayden passed away in May this year after a four-year battle with a rare genetic condition, and Zayden’s Toy Box has been named in his honour – a loans library of switch adapted and sensory toys for children with vision impairment, varying mobility or cognitive abilities and sensory needs.

Zayden was born with a life-limiting ailment called GABRB2 genetic mutation – a condition known to affect only 15 children internationally.

He lived with multiple disabilities including visual impairment and complete immobility. He also had significant global developmental delay meaning he was unable to communicate using words, speaking to his family using his smile, and by flicking open his eyes to say yes.

As regular visitors to Queensland Children’s Hospital, Zayden and his older brother Rylan would often use toys we provide. The family was asked to share their feedback on the existing toys and what further resources they felt would be helpful to improve inclusivity throughout our services.

Through this, Zayden and his family, including his mum Adele and brother Rylan, were instrumental in building on the developing ‘playability’ program, with Adele providing invaluable feedback and suggestions.

Adele says the loans library being renamed in Zayden’s honour allowed his legacy to live on at his second home – Queensland Children’s Hospital.

“Zayden wasn’t only born with his condition, but also with a superpower – he could bring so much joy to those around him without ever speaking a word,” Adele said.

“It’s devastating that Zayden’s smile is no longer around to light up the world anymore but knowing he will continue to spread joy through Zayden’s Toy Box brings us incredible happiness and comfort – as though a small part of him is still here, spreading his infectious smile.

“We learned within the walls of the hospital that pain and joy can co-exist, and we hope that Zayden’s Toy Box can help other families feel joy in painful times,” she said.

Children’s Hospital Foundation Acting CEO, Olivia Jary, said the inclusivity that Zayden’s Toy Box allows is a very welcome and important addition to our support for patients and families.

“The Foundation team were very keen to act on the feedback from families and the pause in many of our services in Queensland Children’s Hospital due to COVID-19 gave us the time to really review our existing toys and games loans and realise that they were not inclusive enough for kids of all abilities,” Ms Jary said.

“Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and the support of Zayden and his family, we were able to act on this feedback and broaden our wonderful range of entertainment and distraction to benefit children of all abilities.”

“Our team sought advice from the Children’s Health Queensland occupational therapy team for recommendations on which types of switch adapted and sensory toys would be most beneficial for patients to loan between physio sessions to help hit key treatment milestones, while also providing entertainment and distraction during their stays in hospital.”