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New rec center will give sick kids a safe place to play

Jul 6, 2015

Kids playing at the Children's Healing Center in Grand Rapids. The center opens its doors to the public this fall.
Credit The Children's Healing Center

A new recreation center set to open in Grand Rapids will give children with weak immune systems and their families a safe, germ-free place to play.

The Children's Healing Center has been specially-designed for children facing cancer, auto-immune diseases, organ transplants or other conditions that put them at high risk for infection.

A big chunk of the center's budget will go toward keeping it as clean as possible.

That includes microbial-resistant surfaces, a HEPA air filtration system, easy-to-clean toys and a complete absence of carpet and fabrics. 

Amanda Winn is the center's executive director. As a cancer survivor, she knows all too well the isolation that accompanies certain medical conditions. 

"Even a common cold can be life threatening, so it really restricts what you're able to do as a family," Winn said.

Winn got the idea for a germ-free recreation center while undergoing treatments at DeVos Children's Hospital.

"I saw a lot of brave kids and their families struggling with a lot of the same things I did, she said. [Like] not being able to go out in public spaces and not being to do things that a normal person could." 

The center will feature several zones including an arts and crafts area, a fitness center, and a technology space.

It's set to open to the public this September.