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You can make a wish come true for Southlake's pediatric patients

Starlight Children's Foundation launches an online hospital wish list program; Newmarket hospital's list includes kits for NICU babies, toddlers and teens, and a treasure chest of games
Karina Milard, certified child life specialist, shows Starlight's programs.

Southlake Regional Health Centre is among recipients of Starlight Children's Foundation new online hospital wish list initiative. 

The online program is the first of its kind in Canada, according to the foundation. It aims to fulfill direct requests for specific programming from more than 100 hospitals in the country, including Southlake. 

Starlight Canada's programs offer emotional relief for critically ill children and their families. It has eight in-hospital programs that help kids during their stay, which have been implemented at Southlake. 

“Southlake is extremely grateful to be an ongoing recipient of the Starlight Children’s Foundation of Canada’s generosity. Southlake’s pediatric program served more than 6,000 patients in 2022, and the support and donations from the Starlight Children’s Foundation provided our patients and families with activities to play during their admission and while undergoing treatments in hospital," said Puneet Sandhu, director of the maternal child program at the hospital. 

Through the new wish list initiative, the foundation is appealing to the public for help in providing this programming. 

Southlake has 335 requests on its wish list. It has requested all eight of the programs Starlight offers including: 

  • 150 admit kits, which provide all the items kids and families need to get through the first night at the hospital, especially after the critical and emergency situation under which they are often rushed to the hospital. 
  • 60 baby kits, which are filled with toys for babies who are staying in NICU or the hospital. 
  • Two play from hospital shipments, which are supersized kits of Lego, board games, crafts and other toys that pediatric staff can sanitize and give to isolated children to play with during their stay. 
  • Three Starlight Nintendo Switch handheld systems, which is the portable version of the Starlight fun centre. 
  • 60 teen kits, which provide emotional relief to teens to remind them that they are not alone while they're in the hospital. 
  • 60 toddler kits, which aim to bring back childhood joy with toys and distractions suited for toddler aged patients. 
  • A Starlight treasure chest, which is a big box filled with toys and games that are available to provide a pick-me-up to young patients. This wish has already been fulfilled. 

The costs for each of these programs vary and you can choose to provide just one kit, a number of wishes, or an entire program online

The programs are often implemented by child life specialists, who work in hospitals providing emotional support to young patients and their families. 

"[Starlight programs] provide a variety of different uses for varied age groups, to ensure pediatric patients’ emotional needs are met. Child life specialists work hand in hand with Starlight Canada to alleviate the fear and anxiety kids and teens face, making these programs a crucial part of a specialist’s toolbox," said Karina Milard, certified child life specialist. 

Southlake is one of many hospitals in Canada in the wish list program and there are currently 43,274 wishes waiting to be fulfilled. 

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Elizabeth Keith

About the Author: Elizabeth Keith

Elizabeth Keith is a general assignment reporter. She graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2017. Elizabeth is passionate about telling local stories and creating community.
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