First Year-Round Recreation Center in Nation for Children with Weak Immune Systems Will Officially Open to Families

Grand Rapids, Michigan, September 14, 2015 – The Children’s Healing Center, the first year-round recreation facility for kids with weak immune systems and their families, is celebrating its grand opening on Wednesday, Sept. 16.The Center is hosting an open house from 10 to 11 a.m. at its new 7,000-square-foot facility at 1530 Fulton St. E. The media are welcome to attend.The event will include a twist on the traditional ribbon cutting: Children will play a game of Red Rover and break through a chain of community leaders and CHC supporters to signify the Center’s role in helping sick kids break through the isolation they often face. Community leaders in attendance will include John and Nancy Kennedy, Amy Van Andel and Dr. Beth Kurt from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital – all of whom played a significant role in the Center’s development.The celebration will also include brief remarks by Amanda Winn, the Center’s founder and executive director, and others key to the launch. Winn will make a special announcement about family memberships at the Center. Some of the families who have already begun to forge connections thanks to the CHC will also be in attendance and available for media interviews. Light refreshments and self-guided tours of the Center will be provided.

The Center will host a private reception for donors in the evening on Sept. 16, and then the staff will get busy cleaning to create as close to a germ-free space as possible so they can officially welcome families on Monday, Sept. 21. The Center will offer free play for the first few weeks before scheduled activities begin Oct. 5.

“Years of dreaming and planning have resulted in this grand opening,” Winn said. “We’re excited to open our doors and provide a place for children with weak immune systems to come play, stay fit and have fun in a germ-free environment. And we’re immensely grateful to the families and community donors who have helped us get to this point.”

The Children’s Healing Center provides a safe, clean, interactive place for children coping with cancer, autoimmune disorders, organ transplants and other medical conditions that leave them at greater risk for infection than their peers. The Center offers scheduled classes, free play and user-driven programming for children ages 3 to 18 in four main program areas: exploratory play, an active fitness space, tech zone and art and learning room.

The Center features a clean environment designed to provide as close to a germ-free space as possible. Every person who comes through the doors will go through a rigorous screening process by a medically knowledgeable CHC team before entry to prevent inadvertent exposure to colds, infections and related ailments that could be harmful to children with weak immune systems.

“As a nurse, I understand the need for the Children’s Healing Center in Grand Rapids,” said Amy Van Andel, who has been active both in fundraising and in developing screening and operational protocols. “As a mother, I know what a difference having a safe, clean place to play will make for families throughout West Michigan.

“As someone committed to our community, I am excited that we can offer this much-needed service to kids in – and beyond – Grand Rapids.”

More than four years in the making, the Center is the vision of Winn. She was just shy of her 22nd birthday when she was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a life-threatening blood cancer that forced her to trade her career as an architectural designer for doctor appointments, chemotherapy treatments and surgeries.

“This is a place where families can take a break from doctor visits, treatments and hospital stays and focus on just being a family,” Winn said. “It’s also a place where they can experience hospital-grade cleanliness without the isolation of being in a hospital.”

Several local businesses and organizations are partnering with the Children’s Healing Center to provide free programming at its facility. They include:

  • Brush Studio
  • Grand Valley State University rugby teams
  • East Grand Rapids branch of Kent District Library
  • The Mud Room
  • MVP Sports Clubs
  • Seva Yoga
  • St. Thomas the Apostle School

Backed by broad support and community involvement, the Center is wrapping up the public phase of a $1.8 million campaign for start-up, capital and operational costs, including an extensive renovation of the building that now houses the Center.

The Children’s Healing Center will be open weekdays except for Wednesday and occasional Saturdays. More information, including hours, programming and family memberships, is available at You can find the Center on Facebook and Twitter.

About Children’s Healing Center
Opening its doors in September 2015, Children’s Healing Center is the first year-round recreation center in the nation for children with weak immune systems. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Center offers a safe, clean and interactive place for children ages 3 to 18 to come play, stay fit and have fun in a germ-free environment. For more information, visit Like us on Facebook /ChildrensHealingCenter or follow us on Twitter @healingkidsplay.

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Contact: Amanda Winn
Children’s Healing Center, 616.634.0423
Mary Ann Sabo
Sabo Public Relations, 616.485.1432