Life Cycle hits the road for kids like Alexia

Life Cycle hits the road for kids like Alexia

Experts at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital didn’t just mend Alexia’s heart – they also mended her spirit.

Alexia was just 17 months old when she was admitted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Extremely tired and unable to settle, she didn’t want to eat. An echocardiogram revealed that Alexia was experiencing myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart brought on by an aggressive virus. She was in heart failure.

Alexia was transported to the Stollery Children’s Hospital where cardiac surgical experts could determine the best course of action. Initially, they feared she would need heart surgery or even a heart transplant.

Alexia remained in Edmonton under the close watch of Stollery’s cardiology experts for a month. While there, Alexia and her parents encountered the hospital’s Child Life team, a compassionate group of specialists who provide evidence-based and developmentally appropriate interventions that help kids through what can be very challenging times in hospital. Using paint brushes, pets, toys and more, Child Life specialists use therapeutic play and distraction techniques to help infants and kids cope with the stress of their medical journeys.

“At the Stollery, Alexia was so excited to get out and have a visit with a pet therapist who brought a sweet little dog for her to interact with. We took video and pictures, and it was the highlight of her day,” says mom, Suzanne.

Thankfully, Alexia was able to recover without invasive treatment and as soon as she was strong enough, she and her family returned to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary to continue her recovery. Understanding the new surroundings could be intimidating for the little toddler, Child Life specialists sprang into action – occupying her with toys, bubbles and crafts, creating for Alexia her very own private wonderland within the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

“We literally had a playroom in our room. They brought a play kitchen for her to have imaginative play, she had a little table to do crafts and colouring and there were so many toys. It was wonderful,” says Suzanne.

A music therapist would visit Alexia routinely and together they would put on their own concerts, much to the amusement of Alexia.

“She would sing and dance and she had little maracas to shake along to the music – it was her favourite thing to do. She was just so engaged and happy,” says Suzanne.

When you sign up to fundraise for Life Cycle, you support all the special Child Life programs that promote healing, expression and creativity and simply let kids be kids – even when they’re in hospital.

“I don’t know what we would have done without Child Life,” says Suzanne. “I didn’t even know those special people existed. I have so many good memories from our stays in both hospitals, even with everything else that was going on at the time, they were there to offer support and make her happy.”

When you take part in Life Cycle, you’re supporting kids from all across Alberta — and beyond! The money you raise will support vital Child Life programs at both the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Learn more and register for Life Cycle today!

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