Unique online community aids in keeping hospitalized kids connected

Children's Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre the first to launch Upopolis in Southwestern Ontario

LONDON, ON, March 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Children's Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre together with TELUS Health, Kids' Health Links Foundation (KHLF) and Children's Health Foundation today announced the launch of Upopolis - an innovative social networking tool helping young hospital inpatients stay connected to their families, friends and school. Children's Hospital is the first hospital in Southwestern Ontario to receive this program.

Founded and created by KHLF and powered by TELUS Health, Upopolis.com is the only private, secure and trusted online social network designed just for children receiving care in hospitals. Upopolis provides familiar features of social networking, such as personal profiles, micro-blogging, instant chat, group chats, multiple photo uploading and event calendars. In addition, the platform gives patients the opportunity to stay up-to-date with their schoolwork, navigate through child-friendly health and wellness information and connect children with similar experiences and interests.

Upopolis was recently redesigned to include new features including private and public discussion groups called My Spaces, enabling children to share information and photos and discuss topics on common interests. The restructured site also features a personalized newsfeed to keep users informed on everything that is important to them. All previous features have been updated to make it easier for patients to surf through the network site with ease. Upopolis will be championed by Child Life Specialists at Children's Hospital who work with patients, their families and other caregivers to help manage stress, pain and anxiety associated with hospitalization.

"We look forward to welcoming Upopolis to Children's Hospital, and in keeping with our family-centred approach to health care, we are happy that Upopolis will offer our patients child-friendly toolkits to help with education, diversion and preparation for medical procedures," said Laurie Gould, Executive Vice-President, Patient Care, London Health Science Centre.

"Social networks and technology are a ubiquitous part of the lives of many Canadian children today and young patients also want the opportunity to stay connected while receiving care," said Paul Lepage, President, TELUS Health. "Upopolis empowers children in care and gives them the opportunity to network and share experiences, thoughts and feelings with other kids under similar circumstances, fostering a community of support. We are thrilled to launch such an innovative program for young patients in Southwestern Ontario for the first time."

This unique online support network was inspired by the hospital experiences of two teenaged friends, Christina Papaevangelou and Katy McDonald. In February 2002, Christina was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at McMaster Children's Hospital with a life-threatening illness. Shortly after, Katy was diagnosed with cancer and had to be hospitalized for a long period of time at The Hospital for Sick Children. Sadly, Katy lost her battle with cancer. However, their friendship and common experiences inspired Christina to explore ways of helping children in care stay connected.

"When we launched Upopolis in December of 2007 it was only a dream. Today it has connected many children in care across Canada with other patients, their friends and loved ones," said Basile Papaevangelou, chairman and founder of Kids Health Links Foundation. "On behalf of Kids' Health Links and our partners, we are excited to launch Upopolis at Children's Hospital. We are now in all four children's hospitals in Ontario, which means we are one step closer to bringing this program to every Canadian children's hospital."

KHLF and TELUS Health launched the first Upopolis program in 2007 at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton and since then it has expanded to eight additional hospitals and health organizations across Canada, including B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver; IWK Health Centre in Halifax; CHEO in Ottawa; The Hospital for Sick Children and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Ste. Justine in Montreal, Lutherwood in Waterloo and now Children's Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre in London. The Upopolis team and TELUS Health have worked together to adapt the program in order to meet the specific needs of each hospital, whether adding French language capabilities or information specific to mental health.

Children's Health Foundation
Children's Health Foundation is dedicated to raising and granting funds to support Children's Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre, Thames Valley Children's Centre and Children's Health Research Institute. Since 1922, funds raised have helped deliver exceptional care and support for children and their families by providing specialized paediatric care, equipment, education programs, therapy, rehabilitation services and research. To learn more about how you can positively impact the health of children, youth and their families, please visit www.childhealth.ca.

About Kids' Health Links Foundation
Kids' Health Links was founded by Basile Papaevangelou and his daughter Christina to connect, through technology, children in health care facilities across Canada with friends and family, their teachers and schoolwork. Kids' Health Links Foundation created Upopolis - an innovative, private online community for children in care. The Kids' Health Links technology solutions help to alleviate stress, isolation and loneliness for children in medical care in order to help children heal faster and better to overcome traumatic medical experiences.

About TELUS Health
TELUS Health is a leader in telehomecare, electronic medical and health records, consumer health, benefits management and pharmacy management. TELUS Health solutions give health authorities, providers, physicians, patients and consumers the power to turn information into better health outcomes. For more information about TELUS Health, please visit telushealth.com.

About TELUS
TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a leading national telecommunications company in Canada, with $10.9 billion of annual revenue and more than 13.1 million customer connections, including 7.7 million wireless subscribers, 3.4 million wireline network access lines, 1.4 million Internet subscribers and 678,000 TELUS TV customers. Led since 2000 by President and CEO, Darren Entwistle, TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment and video.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed more than $300 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered 4.8 million hours of service to local communities since 2000. Fourteen TELUS Community Boards lead TELUS' local philanthropic initiatives. TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company to receive this prestigious international recognition.

For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com.

SOURCE: TELUS Corporation

For further information:

Bob Giorgini
Director, Communications, Children's Health Foundation
(519) 630-9481
bgiorgini@childhealth.ca

Emma Miller
TELUS Media Relations
(647) 464-6817
emma.miller@telus.com

Basile Papaevangelou
Kids' Health Links Foundation
(905) 817-1717
basile@kidshealthlinks.org