Please say you also sung that as the old disco song D.I.S.C.O! I did and part of me is NOT ashamed! But what is I.C.O.E.F I hear you ask? Well it is the International Children’s Ostomy Education Foundation; which is a registered charity that has been specifically set up for children with varying types of ostomies or that are due to have them in the future. In fact you could also use one of the Gastronauts to help your child accept your stoma.
The International Children’s Ostomy Education Foundation was set up by Liz and Phillip Prosser the authors of the book “Unwanted Baggage” which is a resource book for all ostomates and since they started providing the puppets also known as the Gastronauts in 2011 more than 12,300 children who have bladder, bowel or intestinal diversions, have a forever friend.
The Gastronauts are there to help children adjust to the idea of an ostomy and their lives with an ostomy. The puppets can be used by both parents and stoma care nurses to help the child understand what a stoma is and any worries they have. The child can use the puppet to be their voice, to talk to adults and just have a friendly face. There used to be over thirty Gastronauts I believe; but as there aren’t as many volunteers to make each puppet the UK arm of the charity had to downsize slightly.
Not only that but each puppet costs £35 to make and the charity only asks for £10 but sadly a lot of the parents or people receiving the puppets forget to donate the money after receiving a puppet. The charity believe no child should wait on their puppet because the child could be going through a lot emotionally and mentally so they had given out the doll before the donation had been provided. Unfortunately that really isn’t fair on the charity who are trying to do so much for many with little in return either by donations or by not having enough volunteers.
The ostomies covered by International Children’s Ostomy Education Foundation are:
- NG Tube
- Hickman Line
- Left Side Stoma
- Right Side Stoma
- Mic-Key Button
- Intermittent Catheter
Let’s face it that does cover a lot of ostomies, the stoma doesn’t directly coincide with ant specific ostomy it is just what side of the body it’s on which means you can class it as whatever is you need.
I think that this is a fantastic little charity that really comes from a place of love – in America they have colouring sheets and in Australia they have little cooking books to help give ideas and help promote education around ostomies. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are a parent of a child with an ostomy or knows of a child with one (or getting one) and please don’t forget to donate!