Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital prescribes social networking to its patients

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital introduces "Upopolis," Canada's first secure online community to keep kids in hospitals connected

TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2011 /CNW/ - Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in partnership with TELUS, Kids' Health Links Foundation (KHLF) and Sheridan Nurseries today announced the launch of Upopolis, an innovative social networking tool that helps hospital inpatients stay connected to their families, friends and school.

Created by KHLF and powered by TELUS, Upopolis.com is the only private, secure and trusted online social network designed just for kids in hospital. Upopolis provides the best features of social networking, such as personal profiles, personal blogs, instant chat and child-friendly games. The site also provides unique features to kids in hospital, such as a homework site to stay up-to-date with their schoolwork, links to kid-friendly health and wellness information, and connections to other children with the same condition.

At Holland Bloorview, Upopolis will be championed by Child Life Specialists, who work with clients, their family and other caregivers to help manage stress, pain and anxiety associated with hospitalization.

Holland Bloorview is the only children's rehabilitation hospital in Canada to offer this innovative site to their patients. This program comes just in time for Thanksgiving, a vital time for kids in care to connect with their loved ones.

"The average hospital stay at Holland Bloorview is 61 days. For a young person, a stay that long can feel like a lifetime and can lead to feelings of isolation," says Sheila Jarvis, president and CEO Holland Bloorview. "Upopolis allows kids to stay connected to their friends and families which is extremely important for their healing."

Through a unique partnership with KHLF, TELUS provides the technology to develop and build Upopolis. TELUS continues to provide site expansion, ongoing access to Upopolis, managed web hosting, application support and maintenance services.

"At TELUS we take pride in finding new and innovative health care solutions for Canadians through the use of technology," said Paul Lepage, senior vice-president, TELUS Health Solutions. "Upopolis is a terrific example of technology that empowers children in care. It is often difficult for patients to travel outside hospital walls, but with this unique program patients can connect with their friends and families at anytime. We are proud to partner with Holland Bloorview, which will provide growth and expansion within this network to more young patients."

The generous donation KHLF received from Sheridan Nurseries has allowed them to bring Upopolis to Holland Bloorview. In turn, this donation will help with its initial implementation, oversight and also continue the program development for all connected hospitals across Canada.

"Working with Upopolis has given us the opportunity to keep children connected to their family and friends, during a time they often feel isolated and needing extra support," said Karl Stensson, president of Sheridan Nurseries. "We are proud to be involved with this innovative concept in children's health care."

The 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 SickKids. Sadly, Katy lost her battle with cancer. However, their friendship and common experiences inspired Christina to explore ways to help kids in care stay connected.

"Ten years ago Upopolis was only a dream, today it has connected many children in care across Canada, with each other and with 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 thrilled to launch Upopolis at yet another hospital in Canada and for the first time at a children's rehabilitation facility. Today's launch at Holland Bloorview means we are one step closer to bringing this program to every Canadian children's hospital."

KHLF and TELUS launched the first Upopolis program in 2007 at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton and since then it has expanded to other hospitals and health organizations across Canada, including B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver; IWK Health Centre in Halifax; CHEO in Ottawa; SickKids in Toronto, Ste. Justine in Montreal and Lutherwood in Waterloo. By adapting the TELUS technology, the Upopolis team has been able to meet the specific needs of each hospital, whether adding French language capabilities or information specific to mental health.

About Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital, fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.  We pioneer treatments, technologies, therapies and real-world programs that give children with disabilities the tools to participate fully in life. Every year, we see about 7,000 children with about 600 inpatient admissions and 58,000 outpatient visits.

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 Sheridan Nurseries

Sheridan Nurseries is the largest combined nursery and retail chain of garden centres in Canada, with eight retail locations in the GTA and one in Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as five Professional Supply Centres.  The third-generation Stensson business includes more than 900 acres of farm property growing over one million plants for sale annually, in varying container sizes. For more information, visit www.sheridannurseries.com or contact the Marketing department at 416-798-7970.

About TELUS

TELUS (TSX: T, T.A; NYSE: TU) is a leading national telecommunications company in Canada, with $10.1 billion of annual revenue and 12.4 million customer connections including 7.1 million wireless subscribers, 3.7 million wireline network access lines and 1.2 million Internet subscribers and more than 400,000 TELUS TV customers. Led since 2000 by President and CEO, Darren Entwistle, TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services including data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, entertainment and video.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees will, by year-end 2011, have contributed $245 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered 4.1 million hours of service to local communities since 2000. Eleven TELUS Community Boards across Canada 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:

For media inquiries, please contact:

Gen Scott
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
(416) 425 - 6220 ext. 6409
gscott@hollandbloorview.ca

Janice Murray
TELUS Health Solutions
(416) 487-5007
janice.murray@telus.com

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

Valerie Stensson
Sheridan Nurseries
416-399-7992
vstensson@sheridannurseries.com

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