Caedyn Hindley gets down to business enjoying some activities on the Canuck Place Summer in the City tour this week. The children's hospice was in town to help local families it deals with enjoy a little summer respite

Caedyn Hindley gets down to business enjoying some activities on the Canuck Place Summer in the City tour this week. The children's hospice was in town to help local families it deals with enjoy a little summer respite

Club Penguin diversion fun for ill children

No one would ever claim raising a family is without challenges but for the families meeting up with the Canuck Place Summer in the City tour this week, dealing with difficulty an intrinsic part of each day.

  • Jul. 21, 2011 7:00 p.m.

No one would ever claim raising a family is without challenges, but for the families meeting up with the Canuck Place Summer in the City tour this week dealing with difficulty an intrinsic part of each day.

Canuck Place is a child-specific hospice offering children with terminal illness and their families a place to go for the final phase of life, for respite along the way and to connect with other children and families coping with similar life circumstances.

The Summer in the City getaway-at-home is designed to give these kids a chance to get to know the hospice, and the other local families using it, without having to make the journey to Vancouver for an overnight stay.

“For these children, we look at terminal illness over a lifespan so that when it does come time for the child to die we already know them and they’re coming to a place that’s familiar,” explained Laura Fielding, Canuck Place recreation therapy coordinator.

Unlike adult hospice care, Canuck Place is free to those who need it. Children from all over the province are welcome to come and stay with their families and are given up to 20 nights per year to adjust to the hospice environment.

In addition, if a child needs some medication adjustments or is having pain and difficulty, the hospice opens its doors to take them in without chipping into that bank of 20 days.

“We call it a tune-up,” said Fielding, noting the hospice tries to help children stay as comfortable as possible.

Coping with a terminal illness can be costly for families, she said, so the Summer in the City tour also provides a cheap, at-home way to build the Canuck Place connection with families without anyone having to make the journey down to the Lower Mainland.

“Some of (the families) are very low income so it’s just a beautiful way for them to get out and enjoy some time together,” she said.

On the agenda for this week was a tour of Disney Online Studio’s Club Penguin office, horseback riding at Mandy & Me Trailriding on the Westside, dinner and a movie, and some hangout time at the  beach.

“It’s just been a really great experience,” said Cory Lesiuk, who had two children at the event. He and his wife, Lesley, said they had met some local families in Vancouver and do occasionally touch base with one another, particularly when a child passes away.

For Nicola Ezard, who already lost her two-year-old daughter, Hope, the on-going support from Canuck Place has been very helpful as she continues to raise her four other children, and the beginning of the tour had impressed her daughter, Leeann, to no end. She decided she wants to work at Club Penguin one day.

“I mostly want to be the person who makes the games or makes the toys or maybe draws new stuff,” she said.

Caedyn Hindley’s enthusiasm for the day virtually overflowed when Club Penguin founder Lane Merrifield got up to address the crowd. Shouting out answers to every question, he charmed his new friends and the Club Penguin staff, though unfortunately missed snapping up extra prizes for the unprecedented speed with which he could answer any and all questions.

Sharing and caring about others appeared the order of the day, so the collection of penguins and piffles were spread throughout the crowd.

Children with illnesses are often gamers as it’s a way for them to build connections even if they cannot physically get out to do so, according to Brian Nelson, communications director for Club Penguin.

 

jsmith@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

Kelowna Capital News