Skip to content

Gaming unit gift helps make Southlake hospital stay a little brighter for kids

The Newmarket hospital is one of 48 nationwide to receive a Starlight Fun Centre this month

A Starlight gaming unit donation to Southlake Regional Health Centre's pediatric unit is helping to brighten the stay of young patients. 

The Newmarket hospital is one of 48 hospitals nationwide that received the "fun centre" gift this month from Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada and Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company to make long hospital stays a little more bearable for kids.

The units are already enjoying huge success among Southlake's patients, according to Southlake child life specialist Andrea Fretz.

"The Fun Centre with the Nintendo switch upon first day (of) arrival has been a big hit among our patients visiting the pediatric oncology clinic. Having the latest game systems with the newest games is helpful in providing an exciting distraction to help pass the time. Patients often say to staff they can’t believe their visit is over," she said in an email.

Stephanie Simson, manager of pediatrics and the neonatal intensive care unit at Southlake, said the units have been a welcome addition to the hospital not just for the children but for their parents as well.

“For children and youth, being an inpatient during the pandemic can be difficult as patients and families are limited in terms of activities they can do outside of their room. The gaming systems provided by Starlight allow children to play and be distracted during their admission and undergoing treatments. It also provides parents and caregivers some relief and comfort knowing that their child is enjoying a game, smiling, and passing time while in the hospital,” said Simson in an email.

According to the Starlight Foundation, more than 8,500 Starlight Fun Centre units are in hospitals worldwide and all 48 hospitals in Canada will receive the fun centres before the end of 2021.

The centre — a mobile entertainment unit that features a flat screen television and a Nintendo Switch gaming system preloaded with games — has been specifically manufactured to meet strict infection safety protocols.

The system is internet-ready and will be updated annually with new content. It allows kids to be in touch with their family and friends, enjoy movies and interact on social media and provides much needed distraction and entertainment.

“It is always rewarding to see the impact initiatives like Starlight Fun Centres have on the emotional well-being of families who are going through some of the toughest times of their lives,” said Starlight Canada CEO Brian Bringolf in a news release.

“We constantly look for new ways to make life just a little bit easier for both sick children and their families, and are so grateful to have the support of such generous sponsors to make these programs a reality.”

As playrooms in hospitals have closed due to the pandemic, the mobile gaming stations, which can be rolled anywhere, will allow kids to focus on having fun.

“Trisura has been an avid supporter of the Starlight Children Foundation Canada’s for many years. Starlight Canada works hard to help make days a little brighter and easier for sick children and their families. We are proud to support their unique initiatives and we hope the Starlight Fun Centre will be a small distraction to help put a smile on faces,” said president and CEO Chris Sekine in a release.

Starlight Children's Foundation has been operating in Canada for 30 years. According it its website, it is "dedicated to brightening the lives of seriously ill children and their families" and " bring(ing) back some strength, hope and lost childhood by being that reliable and shining star in a dark and stormy sky."