Port Aventura expands space for families with sick children

“There are families who tell you: thank you because it's been three years since we left the hospital.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 May 2024 Wednesday 04:25
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Port Aventura expands space for families with sick children

“There are families who tell you: thank you because it's been three years since we left the hospital... This alone tells you why.” Ramon Marsal, president of the Port Aventura Foundation, the soul of Dreams Village, tells it in a broken, emotional voice. The project was born almost five years ago to provide accommodation for families with seriously ill children in the amusement park. The success, resounding and in every sense, has encouraged its supporters to practically double the reception space, going from six to ten houses: from being able to receive 280 families a year to a total of 420.

“I feel like it was the happiest week of my life since I was diagnosed with the disease. I have missed too many things,” says Helena Philomene Dahzogbo, 16, with an overwhelming maturity. She was one of the more than a thousand people, including mothers, fathers, sick children and her siblings, who lived in the Dreams Village. “It was a dream,” says her mother, Jeannette Yehouenou. And she adds: "They tell you come, enjoy and forget that your daughter is sick.... and that's how it happened."

Sleep and eat with a view of Shambala or Dragon Khan to temporarily forget suffering, as part of medical treatment from a psychological point of view.

The fact that the little ones at home are seriously ill necessarily entails a lot of anguish and suffering, say the experts who advise the project. Port Aventura invented space as a place to recharge energy, disconnect from the hospital and doctors.

The selection of sick minors and their families has been done, from the beginning, in 2019, by three reference hospitals in the matter: Vall d'Hebron and Sant Joan de Déu, in Barcelona, ​​and the Niño Jesús children's hospital in Madrid.

Their involvement has gone further because at a medical level the project also wants to be pioneering. Vall d'Hebron began a medical study in 2019, in collaboration with the other centers, to try to gauge the impact of the stays on the emotional health of families and patients.

The results have not yet been made public because the pandemic delayed testing for a total of 80 families. The tests are done just before, a week after and after a month and a half. “We are seeing that mood and anxiety improve; It also improves the ability to cope with daily challenges. It serves to recharge your batteries at a level that cannot even be imagined,” highlights Annabella García Morán, clinical psychologist at Vall d’Hebron.

The medical committees choose those who they think can benefit the most, but space is a problem because many are left out. With the aim of being able to accommodate more families, Port Aventura sought alliances for expansion, with an investment of more than two million.

Dreams is designed as a small village of ten houses with common spaces, such as gardens, a sports court sponsored by the Johan Cruyff foundation or an aquatic area. Families relate and share experiences. “You realize that you are not alone, because many times families feel excluded,” says one of the mothers.