C/O Starlight Canada

Starlight Canada’s new initiative to cheer up hospitalized children over the holidays

Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada is a nonprofit organization that helps hospitalized children and their families. The organization has been running for more than thirty years, with the ultimate goal of bringing joy to sick children. 

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada, explained that hospitalized children can receive support from Starlight Canada from the time they are admitted into the hospital to after they have been discharged. 

When children are first admitted, they are given Admit Kits from Starlight Canada, which contain age-appropriate toys, writing materials and toiletries. Throughout their hospitalization, Starlight Canada continues to provide toys and activities. Once children are discharged from the hospital, Starlight Canada also holds exciting monthly activities through their Great Escapes program.

“We’re dedicated to brightening the lives of seriously ill children and their families,” said Bringolf. 

“We’re dedicated to brightening the lives of seriously ill children and their families.”

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada

This year, for the holiday season, Starlight Canada is delivering 48 Fun Centers to hospitals across Canada. Fun Centers, according to Bringolf, are brightly-coloured mobile entertainment units, each one featuring a flatscreen television and a Nintendo Switch preloaded with games. 

The McMaster Children’s Hospital is one of the hospitals receiving a donation from Starlight Canada. According to Bringolf, the Fun Center at McMaster Children’s Hospital is sponsored by Air Canada.

C/O Starlight Canada

“They can go on. They can play games. They can be distracted. They have these little headphones that they put on and they can play with their friends that are at home. They can visit mom and dad with these games,” said Bringolf. 

“They can go on. They can play games. They can be distracted. They have these little headphones that they put on and they can play with their friends that are at home. They can visit mom and dad with these games.”

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada

Bringolf explained that when children use the Fun Centers to distract themselves from their illness, this helps them cope with pain. Bringolf cited well-known filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s involvement with Starlight Canada as being crucial to their use of distraction therapy. 

“The premise [of distraction therapy is] that when you’re distracted from pain, when you get distracted from your illness, there’s less pain medication required. And there’s a whole science behind this,” said Bringolf.

Bringolf explained that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitalized children have not been able to receive the same level of support or distraction. Although restrictions are now loosening, children were isolated in their rooms for much of the pandemic, with family members unable to visit. Even some of the supports offered by Starlight Canada, such as entertainment rooms known as Starlight Fun Rooms, were shut down for the pandemic. 

In response to this, Starlight Canada launched numerous virtual programs, such as crafts and bingo games. 

“We did still try to be there for them,” said Bringolf. 

“We did still try to be there for them.”

Brian Bringolf, CEO of Starlight Canada

Bringolf explained that Starlight Canada is constantly growing and changing, based on what kind of support is needed by hospitalized children. 

“I always say that Starlight Canada is not what we were five years ago and we’re not today what we will be in five years. We continue to evolve with the needs of the kids,” said Bringolf.

This holiday season is Starlight Canada’s first time bringing Fun Centers to hospitals. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the past year especially challenging for hospitalized children, but Starlight Canada looks forward to brightening up their holiday season.

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