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

Children playing with toys
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.

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