In the West, play therapy is considered a form of counseling which allows children to communicate their feelings with the play companion through playing with toys and play materials. It gives them a safe place to express their feelings and a way to alleviate their stress, thus giving them a feeling of having more control over their emotions despite their physical suffering.
The Founders of ASHIC have witnessed this first-hand comfort of a child through their son Ashiq, when he was being treated at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Little Ashiq loved his time at the Play Center. They fondly recall how, just minutes before he went in for a major surgery, was busy pushing a play stroller in the bright and cheerful playroom that he always enjoyed very much. This extraordinary memory of Ashiq remained with his parents and, as such, it was one of the first programs they sought to introduce through ASHIC Foundation Serving Childhood Cancer.
In 1997, ASHIC, was the first organization in Bangladesh to start the concept of Play-Center at Pediatric Wards of hospitals. The vivid and cozy Play Centers areopen for all the in-patient children admitted in the hospitals, stuffed with toys, games and play materials. At the moment, ASHIC is operating four Play Centers across the country: at Dhaka Medical College Hospital since 1997, at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital since 2004, at Chittagong Medical College Hospital since 2007, and in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital since 2017. On average, each center is visited by more than 100 children per month.
ASHIC provides all the toys and play materials, and employs a Play Companion for the full duration of the centers being open. Many of the children who come to the play centers have never had any toys and the enthusiasm with which they embrace the Play Center is truly heart-warming. The Play Centers are voluntarily supervised by a Project Director – mainly the Head of the Dept. of Pediatrics of the respected hospital. ASHIC applauds this humanitarian service of a senior doctor, and welcomes donation of funds and toys as well as volunteers to come play with the ill children in the Play Centers.