For Immediate Release – Halifax: An online community is connecting youth at the IWK Health Centre with youth at health centres across Canada, eliminating some of the obstacles and restrictions that hospitalization and illness can place upon them. Upopolis is a private Canadian therapeutic online community for youth 10-18 years of age who are receiving medical care or have a chronic medical condition. It helps them stay connected with friends and family, share experiences, access resources, meet others with similar diagnoses and create their own unique content.
Developed by Kids’ Health Links Foundation, Upopolis provides youth with access to age- appropriate medical content and coping skill resources. The platform currently connects youth throughout 11 health care centres, three youth treatment centres, and four community partners across Canada. It was most recently adopted by Brigadoon Village, a camp for children, youth and families living with chronic illness or special needs.
“Upopolis promotes socialization between youth from different demographics by allowing them to connect and communicate in a safe environment,” says Jennifer Bérubé, a Certified Child Life Specialist at the IWK. “Today’s youth have a growing desire to share their stories on social media and it’s nice to be able to offer them this unique platform.”
Research has proven that providing accurate medical information to children lessens negative behavior and promotes faster recovery post-operatively, while also alleviating fear and anxiety. Guided by a team of child life specialists, health care professionals and youth volunteers who understand the unique struggles and experiences of users, Upopolis encourages and empowers youth by providing a platform where they can describe their experiences and learn about their diagnoses and care. It gives them a voice when it has been lost or forgotten due to medical experience.
“Over the past year, I have watched Upopolis evolve into an amazing therapeutic tool that is constantly growing and changing to meet the needs of its users,” says Certified Child Life Specialist Krista Naugler. “We are watching Canadian youth learn, share, and support one another in a community where isolation, communication and mobility limitations are lifted.”
About the IWK Health Centre
The IWK Health Centre is the Maritime region's leading health care and research centre dedicated to the well-being of women, children, youth and families. In addition to providing highly specialized and complex care, the IWK provides certain primary care services and is a strong advocate for the health of families. The IWK is a global leader in research and knowledge sharing, and a partner in educating the next generation of health professionals. Visit www.iwk.nshealth.ca for more information.
About Kids’ Health Links Foundation
Kids’ Health Links Foundation was founded by Basile Papaevangelou and his daughter Christina to foster initiatives focused on alleviating the stress, isolation and loneliness for kids and teens undergoing medical care so that they might be better able to overcome traumatic medical experiences. These initiatives include: Upopolis – targeting healthy connections for paediatric patients; Upedia -- providing resources supporting child life specialists; and Umind -- connecting professionals dedicated to child and youth mental health. For more information about Upopolis and the Kids’ Health Links Foundation please visit www.kidshealthlinks.org.Share