We love to say it with balloons at Camp Simcha.
We might be saying Happy birthday, Get Well – or just ‘We’re here, we thought these would make you smile’.
And they usually do make children and parents smile because balloons bring joy – and that is why they feature in so much of what we do.
They are also represent the joint journey we have with families because it is how we mark the milestones with them, from the balloons to welcome them to Camp Simcha to the ones to cheer them up during treatments; ones we send in for their special occasions – birthdays and b’nei mitzvot – to the ones to celebrate the closure of the most difficult part of their journey.
Last week a little boy we support had his last his cancer treatment. It was a happy but very emotional moment for the family as he finished his chemo and then rang the bell at Great Ormond Street Hospital to signify this. Just after they got home from their long day, the doorbell rang and a volunteer was standing there with an armful of big, bright balloons – including a batman balloon that was bigger than him. The lovely photo his parents shared with us of him lying on the floor and grinning surrounded by his balloons said it all. The photo shouted joy and celebration and it made us just as happy to see it as it did for his parents to share it.
It is this association between balloons and happiness that makes them such a powerful tool.
We send them in to children in hospital and the nurses tell us they always bring a smile to their young patients.
Our Camp Simcha parties and events also feature balloons because not only are they bright, fun and colourful – but they are almost a subliminal announcement to families of the fun-filled time that lies ahead, a few hours of joy during a difficult time. Last year when we sent our party float around to visit families on their driveways – in lieu of our normal summer day scheme due to Covid, the multi-coloured balloon arch on the back of the float announced the party before we even got there.
It may sound like a lot of hot air, but to us it is very powerful – sometimes it is the little things that make a difference.