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Nation's first "germ free" play center provides safe haven for at risk kids

Nation's first "germ free" play center provides safe haven for at risk kids
Posted at 5:39 AM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 11:14:43-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - — Six year old Addison Weith, or “Addy” for short, loves to love.

The young Hudsonville native, is constantly hugging her mom, and her twin sister Norah. For them, giving hugs, and showing affection is a luxury.

Their mom, Lisa Weith explains; “So Addison has a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, which she's sort of predisposed to not react very well to viruses. Like if Norah and Addison got the same virus, Nora might have a runny nose, a cough and get over it, Addy just might continue to deteriorate.”

Because of this Lisa says Addy and Norah often can’t play with others, go to the park, or even the grocery store.

We are able to meet with the family at the Children’s Healing Center in Grand Rapids because this is the Nation’s first and only “germ free” play center. It’s the twins’ beautiful escape from isolation.

“It's amazing actually to be able to let them have a safe place to come because outside of this center, we really don't go anywhere,” says Lisa.

Associate Director for the Children’s Center, Melissa Block tells us; “Everyone who comes into our building has always been screened. We have hospital grade wipes that we wipe down shoes with and items that are coming into the center with as well. We wipe down everything that a child touches and plays with in between programs.”

For families who visit the Children’s Healing Center, these safety precautions we’re all just now learning during COVID-19 are a part of their everyday life.

“Germs are always at the front of our day,” explains Lisa.

Block says; “In a manner the entire world is getting just a glimpse into what our families experience. So our field families have been isolating long before COVID and they will be isolating long after. This is kind of business as usual for our members.”

At the center the girls are safe, but when they leave it’s our actions that affect them greatly.

“It makes me sad, angry, frustrated when I see others not wearing masks because sometimes it feels personal to me,” details Lisa.
“It could save Addy to wear a mask, and I just feel like it’s not that difficult. Surgeons do it, doctors do it, people do it all the time.”

So there it is. A simple way you can help.

Your choice helps assure the precious gift of time for Addy, something the Weith’s say they cherish everyday.

“Politics aside, agendas aside, a virus does not have an agenda, it’s science. There’s ways to minimize risk, and I think that if I knew I could minimize somebody else’s risk to it, I would do it,” says Lisa.

The Children’s Healing Center is a non-profit and runs on donations. To donate, click here.

Addy Weith has a GoFundMe. To learn more about her story and donate, click here.