Little Amanda Gouvea Horan was just two-and-a-half years old when doctors broke the
news to her devastated parents, Paula and Ned. Amanda had Leukaemia.
It was like the floor went from under me. In an instant our whole world came crashing down. Amanda has Down Syndrome but that’s not a problem, it’s a blessing. Leukaemia, that’s a problem. So as soon as I heard I said ‘Let’s get started, let’s fight and kill this Leukaemia, I want my child alive.
But as any family who has been through it knows, cancer doesn’t just affect the person who is sick. It affects the whole family and the Gouvea Horan’s were no exception. Leukaemia was physically tearing their family apart. Paula spent six days a week in the hospital with Amanda. At home Ned was taking care of their other two little girls, Luana (8) and Giovanna (7).
I want to give:
Amanda’s big Barretstown moment came on the last day of camp as everyone sat in the theatre waiting for the show to start. But Amanda had other ideas. This little girl walked right up onto the stage, smiled out at the audience and started waving. And of course everyone started to wave back.
You see when a child like Amanda is battling a serious illness their childhood takes a backseat. The fight to survive can involve long hospital stays and aggressive treatments. They simply have no energy left to play or laugh or enjoy being a child.
A Lasting Impact
That’s what the medically endorsed Therapeutic Recreation programmes here at Barretstown are all about. Teaching children who are battling serious illnesses like cancer to have fun again. And through that fun we can begin to repair the damage that the illness has done.
Paula Gouvea Horan
I think it kind of pulled us back together, Barretstown allowed us to have fun again, experience joy and to be together as a family in a way that hadn’t been possible since Amanda got sick.Donate
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Joy & Magic
Our arts and crafts team are always on hand with paint, facepaint, crayons, craft paper, bracelet beads, feathers and everything you can imagine, to bring out the creative side in each child!
All of our camps and programmes are designed to respond directly to the needs of a child living with a serious illness – both clinical and psychological. Our unique model of challenge, discovery, reflection and success is recognised by paediatricians and psychologists all over the world as an important and necessary component of a child’s treatment.
The loss of control that many children and their families experience as a result of a serious illness can gradually erode confidence, diminish self-esteem, body image and coping skills. We aim to give this back by empowering and encouraging each individual to step out of their comfort zone and begin to re-build their confidence, trust and self-esteem and discover something new about themselves and their ability.
We believe that fun should be an integral part of what we do. Fun and laughter are key ingredients in improving the lives of those affected by serious illness.
Our outreach programme brings the playful spirit of Barretstown beyond the gates of our beautiful castle into hospitals and communities all over the country.