Podium Presentation 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

The Alignment Of Positive Psychology And Starlight’s Wishgranting Program For Seriously Ill Children And Adolescents (#35)

Melissa Barker 1 , Louise Baxter 1 , Claire Treadgold 1 , Hannah Cheeseman 1 , Jessica Jones 1
  1. Starlight Children's Foundation, Richmond, VIC, Australia

For 30 years, the Starlight Children’s Foundation has been delivering a “Wishgranting” program. A Starlight Wish is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a seriously ill child or young person.  The impact of a wish, however, is not restricted to a single positive experience. The benefits are multiple, individual and complex in what they provide to the wish recipient and their family members, and are closely linked with positive psychology and well-being.

Recognising limited research in this area, Starlight undertook to investigate and document any correlation between Wishgranting and concepts in positive psychology theory, identifying particularly if the program aligns with the PERMA model. The PERMA model was chosen as it is holistic, multi-dimensional and empirically validated.  

Findings demonstrated the program related closely to each PERMA element.  Wish recipients and their families consistently confirm the positive emotions felt throughout, increased levels of engagement, closer and/or broader relationships, added sense of meaning in their lives and significant feelings of accomplishment as a direct result of the program.

This paper will present the findings from this research, outline key examples and include suggestions for the organisation to strengthen these links and obtain improved outcomes in line with the objectives of positive psychology.