For 20 years, L’ENVOL has been providing seriously ill children with recreational opportunities like no other. Led by Joanna Jammes and based in Paris, this association, which has 12 employees and more than 250 volunteers, combats the psychological and social problems caused by disease through recreational therapy. Self-confidence, resilience, autonomy: L’ENVOL has a proven track record and counts the Air Liquide Foundation among its many supporters.
The principle of inclusion
The L’ENVOL stays in France are like extraordinary vacation camps. And for good reason: they are based on the principle of inclusion. As Joanna Jammes points out, “Children must be able to perform all the sports and artistic activities offered, without their illness limiting them.” One child in a wheelchair will be able to climb, another suffering from chronic hematological disease will go horseback riding, and anyone can join the dance class or theater if they wish. Supported by the permanent team and many trained volunteers, these children choose their own challenge – an approach that greatly contributes to their development.
At the “Castle”, we forget about disease
It is difficult for children who undergo heavy medical treatment to forget the harsh reality of disease. But when the infirmary becomes a “Castle” where Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses administer “magic potions”, their faces light up, whatever the age of the children. The pleasure is in the details, as the Air Liquide Foundation understands quite well, which financed the costumes, wigs and all types of medieval decorations – not to mention all the medical equipment and several defibrillators. Set up four years ago, the “Castle” is part of L’ENVOL’s desire to allow children to escape the world of the disease – as much as possible – and “rubbing shoulders with children with other diseases allows them to feel less alone and to put their own situation into perspective,” highlights the director.
Also getting families involved
The multiple financial supports of L’ENVOL, 40 companies, private individuals, the Paul Newman Foundation – founder of the Serious Fun Children’s Network of which L’ENVOL is a member – have enabled the association to broaden its action. In addition to funding the stay of sick children, which amounts to €2,000 per child, for the past year L’ENVOL has organized weekends for families and stays specifically dedicated to the brothers and sisters of the sick patients. The initiative has already won over these families, and more than 400 people, including some 40 sick children, will have benefited from these refreshing stays in 2017.