From the end of 2019 to March 2020, the University Fund Limburg/SWOL and Pim Martens, Professor of Sustainable Development, held a crowdfunding campaign, officially called “Give to sick children” to raise €12,500. With an amount of €11,525, 92% of this goal has been achieved and we are very pleased about that. What happened in the meantime?

Project background
The project is a collaboration with Kinderboerderij De Heeg, GaiaZOO, Open Universiteit, Psylaris and of course the MUMC. The project owner, Pim Martens, is specialized in the contact between humans and animals and tries to stimulate a good relationship between the two in our daily lives. With this campaign, he wants to investigate whether contact with animals promotes the well-being and healing of the young patients. In this video, Pim Martens explains it again.

The aim of this project was to create a special space in the MUMC, where young patients every month can come into contact with real animals and/or via virtual channels see the animals. Before the pandemic, Kinderboerderij De Heeg came to the hospital every month with some animals, so that the children could cuddle with them.

However, not all children are allowed to come into contact with real animals because of their health. The monthly visit of De Heeg’s animals was also regularly interrupted by the corona restrictions. This is how the idea for the VR glasses was born.

Virtual zoo for kids
GaiaZOO and Psylaris have developed four Virtual Reality glasses, equipped with special hardware and software, with which children can watch sixteen different 360-degree videos of GaiaZOO animals, ranging from dancing meerkats to an intimate look at the giraffe enclosure, which normal visitors can never see. The children put the glasses into use on Wednesday 30 March with great enthusiasm, in the presence of the press. You can read the entire press release here.

In the meantime, the monthly visit with the animals has been resumed. For that reason, a course has also been developed for the staff of the MUMC children’s department, so that they can better guide the sick patients during the intervention with animals.

In addition to all of the above, they were also able to purchase supporting materials for the petting zoo, including special mobile cages to facilitate transport.

It has now been shown that the presence of animals in a hospital provides the following benefits:

  • Providing a relaxed atmosphere that provides distraction
  • Providing comfort and distraction during a medical procedure
  • Offering (emotional) support to patient and family
  • Increasing general well-being, joy and happiness
  • Lowering feelings of tension, anxiety and loneliness
  • Reducing pain experience

In collaboration with the Open Universiteit, they will investigate the extent to which the animals contribute to a shorter and more pleasant hospital stay.

In short, fantastic results that we could not have achieved without support of sponsors!