Celebrating Upopolis and 2016 -- What a year!

Upopolis has had it's biggest and best year ever! 2016 has been an exciting year of growth for KHLF's flagship program. As we approach the year's end, we celebrate the amazing accomplishments that have increased value to users, and have made it possible for Upopolis to positively impact many more children and youth across Canada.

Key successes include:

  • Welcomed 6 new hospital partners, and 5 new community partners to the Upopolis community; doubling the number of total sites benefitting from the program.
  • Expanded our youth empowerment and volunteer opportunities with a new Umentor Training Program, a Uambassador role, and a series of contests that engage youth in creative and empowering ways.
  • In collaboration with Upopolis users, developed a video entitled, Ucope – showcasing youth across Canada sharing their positive coping strategies with other youth.
  • Established the Upopolis Grief and Bereavement “island”. This is new application of the program and a separate section of Upopolis that was launched specifically for youth who have experienced the loss of a loved one.
  • Hosted a 2-day conference for key representatives from Upopolis sites. Delegates came from organizations across Canada. Important topics around youth empowerment and how to enrich site content and programming for youth were discussed.
  • Continued the development of engaging digital medical content for youth like this video, IWK Lab Mini Series, Part 1: Getting Results. Creating and curating enriching content for our Uknow library of medical related videos and resources.

With such an amazing year behind us, we are dreaming even bigger for 2017!

Here are some 2017 goals:

  • Taking our first steps outside Canada. We are currently in discussions that would take Upopolis international with launches at children's hospitals in the United States and the UK within the year.
  • Doubling the Upopolis Grief and Bereavement "island" from 5 to 10 sites. 
  • Continuing the development of engaging digital medical content for youth. Creating and curating enriched content for our Uknow library of medical related videos and resources within Upopolis.
  • Developing and executing a national Upopolis Communications and Marketing Strategy. Our aim is to raise awareness about Upopolis amoung Canadian youth, caregivers, health care professionals and potential partners; expanding the number of sites and ultimately the number of youth positively impacted by the program.

With strong momentum heading towards the new year, we need support to continue our great work and achieve our goals. Please click here to donate!


Mohawk College Partnership Expands Access to Child & Youth Mental Health Resources for Students and Faculty

Mohawk College Partnership Expands Access to Child & Youth Mental Health Resources for Students and Faculty

Hamilton, Ontario… As part of a knowledge exchange initiative, Mohawk College has become an academic partner with Umind to provide access to and heighten awareness of child and youth mental health (CYMH) resources for students, faculty, graduates, community partners, and CYMH professionals across Canada and globally. Developed by Kids’ Health Links Foundation with Umind’s clinical partner Lutherwood, Umind is a dynamic online platform for child and youth mental health professionals to share resources, advice, tips and techniques.

Through this partnership, Umind will be incorporated within Mohawk College’s Human Services curriculum encompassing 17 programs, over 250 courses and nearly 1,000 graduates annually. For the 900 agencies working with the Human Services Department, this partnership provides an online platform where they can access and contribute CYMH resources.  Other benefits of partnership include the opportunity for Mohawk students and CYMH professionals to actively network, share information and ideas through Umind’s online discussion board and webinars.

“We are very excited about our partnership with Umind. We are in the business of providing the best learning opportunities for our students and this partnership with Umind will allow students to access more resource information on Children and Mental Health”, says Neil McMahon, Acting Dean, Faculty of Community & Urban Studies.

As Umind’s clinical partner, we are thrilled to work with Mohawk College to exchange resources, tools and techniques that encourage insight and professional development, and positively impact children, youth and families facing mental health challenges,” said Kathy Payette, Lutherwood Director Community Mental Health Services and Umind Ambassador.

According to the World Health Organization, 20% of the world’s children and youth have mental health disorders or issues.  This partnership comes at a time when the need for child and youth mental health information and resources has never been greater.

Says Kids’ Health Links Foundation co-founder Basile Papaevangelou, “Through this partnership, two of the child and youth mental health profession’s leading organizations will be working together to meaningfully and positively develop and share much needed resources for today’s professionals and the many Mohawk graduates poised to join the CYMH  profession.”




About Mohawk College
Mohawk College’s Faculty of Community & Urban Studies is pleased to partner with KHLF, Lutherwood and Umind for faculty and students in the School of Human Services to be able to access child and youth mental health resources.

Mohawk College, rated the #1 college in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area in student satisfaction for the last 6 years, is the college of choice for more than 14,000 full-time and 20,000 part-time students. For more information, visit www.mohawkcollege.ca.

About Umind
Umind is a dynamic online community where mental health professionals access information, connect and share practical tools, knowledge, and training to help improve the lives of children and youth and their families living with mental health issues. It is an initiative launched and supported by Kids' Health Links Foundation (KHLF) and its clinical partner, Lutherwood Institute for Children and Youth Mental Health. For more information, visit www.umind.ca.

About Lutherwood
Lutherwood is a not-for-profit health and social service organization that provides children’s mental health, employment and housing services to more than 16,600 people annually in Waterloo Region and Wellington County. For more information, visit www.lutherwood.ca 

About the Kids’ Health Links Foundation
The 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. For more information about Kids’ Health Links Foundation please visit: www.kidshealthlinks.org.


For more information, please contact:

Mohawk College                                                    Umind & Lutherwood                      Kids’ Health Links Foundation

Malorie Valade                                                        Marni Herold                                    April Ganong

malorie.valade@mohawkcollege.ca                      info@umind.ca                                  april@kidshealthlinks.org

905-575-1212, ext. 4466                                        519-884-1666, ext. 1206                  905-817-1717


Upedia launches newly redesigned website October 20th!

Based on feedback from Upedia members and with website design inspiration provided by RhythmQ , Upedia 2.0 offers a new world of resources for child life professionals across Canada and around the globe.  Here are a few ways Upedia 2.0 helps child life professionals connect, collaborate and access resources valuable for their professional development and that of their organizations:

Mobile Friendly: Enjoy exploring Upedia from your computer or any mobile device with our new dynamic, responsive design.

At-a-Glance Access:  From the Upedia home page, register for webinars, visit the Resource Library, connect, collaborate and more!

One-Click Resource Access: Find hundreds of child life professional resources lightening fast with the simple A-Z resource listing by topic or with keyword search.

Sharing Made Simple: Do you have a resource you’d like to share with other child life professionals? The new contribute function will make it super easy for you to  add your resources to Upedia’s growing library.

NEW Discussion Board:  Newly added, the Collaborate discussion board makes it easy for you to join conversations targeting today’s most important child life topics.

Live Learning: You’ll be able to earn Certificates of Participation listing professional development hours, when you attend Upedia’s real-time webinar events, presented by child life leaders on topics important to the child life community. 

Webinar Recordings:  Search the webinar archives to quickly locate recordings & handouts of previous Upedia online events.

Member Directory: Looking for someone from a specific organization?  Wish to connect with others in your area? Our searchable member directory can help.

NEW Interactive Contributor Map: A detailed map provides details on organizations that have contributed their resources to the Upedia Resource Library. 

It’s still FREE! With all of these improvements, Upedia remains a free online resource packed with valuable opportunities for professional growth for you and your organization.

Upopolis Now in Alberta!

On Wednesday June 29th, Stollery Children's Hospital launched Upopolis, becoming the first healthcare organization in Alberta to join this social network that connects hospitalized and chronically ill youth across Canada to one another, family and friends. 

“The Stollery has among the highest inpatient volumes in the country and serves a diverse patient population from across western Canada,” said Lois Wolgemuth, manager child life services, Stollery Children’s Hospital. “Upopolis can provide online social support for our patients and help them connect with others in a safe way, stay connected to their communities, and relate to other children and youth on a similar health care journey.”

Upopolis differs from typical social networks by delivering therapeutic benefits for the youth who use it. These benefits include being able to access medical content written in kid-friendly language so patients can better understand their diagnosis and treatment plan; and enabling connections with other patients who share similar diagnoses through public and private discussion groups, which can lead to new friendships, shared experiences and new interests that form a broader support network for the patient.  

“Through the overwhelming support of TELUS as our technology partner, as well as our many individual and corporate supporters, today over 1,700 kids in children’s hospitals across Canada have been able to take advantage of Upopolis,” said Basile Papaevangelou, chairman and founder of Kids’ Health Links Foundation. “Having Stollery Children’s Hospital join our Upopolis family puts us a major step closer to our goal of bringing Upopolis to all Canadian children’s hospitals, of which there are now only 3 remaining. Our bigger vision is making Upopolis available in every medical treatment facility that serves children and teens across the country, and we are forging ahead towards making that a reality.”

For more info about this exciting event, check out the full press release here.  

Umind Selected as a Connected Site on New CAMH Portico Network

Umind is pleased to announce that it has been selected as one of the first independent Connected Sites on the new CAMH Portico Network launched on January 21st. The Portico Network, built by CAMH in partnership with Bell, is an exciting new network of addiction and mental health sites from across Canada comprised of three main components:

1.    The core Portico site, created and maintained by the team in Education at CAMH
2.    Partner sites that are hosted on the Portico platform, but are editorially independent
3.    Connected Sites, such as Umind.ca, that are independent sites included in Portico’s search results

As a Connected Site, Umind is listed on Portico with a short description and link, making it easy for Portico’s national audience to access Umind’s wealth of information, which includes 800+ practical tools and interventions available online to Canada’s child and youth mental health professional community.

“Umind’s niche is providing proven, practical resources to its registered members. Being selected as a Connected Site on the Portico Network is an honour,” says Kathy Payette, Umind Mental Health Ambassador and Director of Community Mental Health Services at Lutherwood. “We look forward to sharing these valuable resources with the Portico Network audience and working with the CAMH and Portico team as they grow this important initiative.” 

Visit www.umind.ca  and www.porticonetwork.ca and start connecting with the growing number of child and youth mental health professionals, groups and resources available on these dynamic online communities.

For more information about Umind, please contact Umind Program Manager and Children’s Mental Health Ambassador Marni Herold at info@umind.ca

KHLF opens applications for research project

KHLF is currently accepting applications from organizations who are interested in undertaking a research project to investigate online social networking among chronically ill youth.  With the significant rise in children and youth’s accessibility to wireless phones, text messaging, and online activities, there is also a growing rise in the use of social networking sites among children and youth.

The primary objective of this research grant is to increase the literature base examining the use of online support networks by chronically ill youth aged 10-18 years of age. Up to $40,000 in grant funding for research activities that take place over a 1 year (12 month) period is available. Organizations interested in applying can click here to access the KHLF 2015 Research Grant RFP and the KHLF Research Grant Application Form. If you have any questions, please email KHLF Program Director April Ganong at april@kidshealthlinks.org.

TELUS Community Boards donate $27,500 to KHLF!

Ottawa and Vancouver TELUS Community Boards Help Hospitalized Kids Stay Connected

(Toronto, ON) – Kids’ Health Links Foundation (KHLF) is excited to announce that we’ve received grant funding from the TELUS Ottawa and TELUS Vancouver Community Boards in the amounts of $12,500 and $15,000, respectively. Two-thirds of each grant will be donated to The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and BC Children’s Hospital in support of their UPOPOLIS programs. These funds will support the socialization and integration of UPOPOLIS Version 2.0 into therapeutic care and the daily practice of child life specialists, who care for children and youth during a very scary and challenging experience in their lives. This new version of the program, launched in 2014, has an updated user-interface, enhanced functionality and refreshed look and feel, making it even easier for hospitalized children and youth to connect with one another, with family and with friends. The balance of the funds will be used by Kids’ Health Links Foundation to provide support and develop best practices for UPOPOLIS in consultation with CHEO and BC Children’s Hospital.

“My heartfelt thanks go out to the TELUS Team for their powerful commitment to strengthen communities where they serve and for truly living the philosophy, ‘we give where we live’,” says Basile Papaevangelou, Chairman of Kids’ Health Links Foundation. “It is because of TELUS and TELUS Community Boards’ ongoing support of our Foundation and the work that we do that makes it possible for us to positively impact the lives of young hospital patients across the country.”

Founded and created by KHLF and powered by TELUS Health, www.UPOPOLIS.com is Canada’s only private, secure and trusted online social network designed just for kids and teens receiving medical care in hospitals and youth treatment centres. UPOPOLIS provides familiar features of social networking, such as personal profiles, micro-blogging, newsfeed, instant chat, and photo uploading while giving patients the opportunity to stay up to date with schoolwork, and navigate through child-friendly health and wellness information verified and approved by health care professionals. Since 2009, TELUS Community Boards across Canada have donated $205,000 to Kids’ Health Links Foundation in support of UPOPOLIS implementations in children’s hospitals and UPOPOLIS program development.


TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is Canada’s fastest-growing national telecommunications company, with $11.8 billion of annual revenue and 13.5 million customer connections, including 8.0 million wireless subscribers, 3.2 million wireline network access lines, 1.45 million Internet subscribers and 888,000 TELUS TV customers. TELUS provides a wide range of communications products and services, including wireless, data, Internet protocol (IP), voice, television, entertainment and video, and is Canada’s largest healthcare IT provider.

In support of our philosophy to give where we live, TELUS, our team members and retirees have contributed more than $350 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered 5.4 million hours of service to local communities since 2000. Created in 2005 by Executive Chairman Darren Entwistle, TELUS’ 11 community boards across Canada have led the company’s support of grassroots charities and will have contributed $47 million in support of 3,700 local charities by the end of 2014, enriching the lives of more than two million Canadian children and youth. 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.

About the Kids’ Health Links Foundation

The 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 pediatric patients; UPEDIA — providing resources supporting child life specialists; and UMIND — connecting professionals dedicated to child and youth mental health.

We believe that positive emotional well-being can be fostered by maintaining family connections and encouraging active social participation. By providing technology that enables this well-being through UPOPOLIS, we hope to help children heal faster and better overcome traumatic medical experiences.

KHLF and TELUS Health first launched the UPOPOLIS Program in 2007 at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton and since then it has expanded to 13 additional hospitals and health organizations across Canada including: BC 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; CHU Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre; Montréal Lutherwood Youth Treatment Center in Waterloo; London Hospital for Sick Children in London; Emily’s House Pediatric Palliative Care Hospice in Toronto; Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John’s; Youth Treatment Centre in Paradise; and the Youth Addictions Treatment Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor.

For more information about the Kids’ Health Links Foundation please visit: www.kidshealthlinks.org.


For more information, please contact:

April Ganong
Kids’ Health Links Foundation

Sarah Arden
TELUS Community Affairs – Ottawa

Nicole MacLellan
TELUS Community Affairs – Vancouver

CAEM raises $8,437 for KHLF, its Charity of Choice!

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, December 3rd at The International Centre, KHLF attended the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM) 2014 Holiday Luncheon Event. We are honoured to have been selected as CAEM'S Charity of Choice once again this year! It was a pleasure to lunch amongst friends as we continue to develop our relationship with such a generous organization and supporter of our work.

We were also so grateful to be presented with a cheque of $8,437 from the fundraising produced by CAEM and its members at last year’s holiday luncheon, their 2014 Conference and their Sports Day.

It is because of our amazing partners, like CAEM that we are able to continue to expand our initiatives and realize the full potential of our Foundation.


Upopolis, KHLF & TELUS recognized in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly

UPOPOLIS Rocked "The Rock"!

Our Newfoundland & Labrador launch of our UPOPOLIS Program was a great success! Though the temperature was chilly, we certainly basked in the warm welcome received from Eastern Health and Central Health, our newest UPOPOLIS sites.

We were so excited to have The Honourable Steve Kent, Deputy Premiere and Minister of Health and Community Services attend the event, and it was a tremendous honour for Kids' Health Links Foundation and UPOPOLIS to be spoken about by him later that day at the House Of Assembly - a short video clip can be viewed HERE!

A HUGE thank you to TELUS Health and Eastern Health Newfoundland & Labrador in particular for helping us rock "The Rock" by organizing and promoting this province-wide event!

Upopolis launches in Newfoundland and Labrador!

St. John’s – Newfoundland and Labrador will welcome TELUS Health and Kids’ Health Links Foundation (KHLF) to the province on Thursday, November 20, 2014 to make a province-wide announcement affecting pediatric patients and their access to youth-friendly medical content and social connections with families, friends and schools while undergoing treatment.

The Honourable Steve Kent, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Community Services, along with representatives from Eastern Health, Central Health, TELUS Health and the Kids’ Health Links Foundation will be present for the provincial launch of this initiative.

Note to editors: Cameras and reporters welcome to attend

When: Thursday, November 20, 2014 9 a.m.

Where: Paradise Youth Treatment Centre 7 Mallow Drive (off Paradise Road)

What: Interview and Photo Opportunities: • Honourable Steve Kent, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Community Services, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador • David Diamond, President and CEO, Eastern Health • David Thomas, Vice President, TELUS Health • Basile Papaevangelou, Chairman and Founder, Kids’ Health Links Foundation

Follow the conversation on Twitter using #Upopolis.


For more information, please contact:

Jill Yetman TELUS Media Relations 416-992-2639 jill.yetman@telus.com

April Ganong Kids’ Health Links Foundation 905-817-1717 april@kidshealthlinks.org ###

Countdown to Upopolis SuperUser Meeting!

This Thursday and Friday, November 13-14, 2014, Kids' Health Links Foundation is hosting its 3rd Annual UPOPOLIS Super User Meeting in Toronto. This yearly event brings together key child life specialists from across the country from that are using and enjoying the positive benefits of the UPOPOLIS program. Child life specialists are the life-blood of UPOPOLIS. They act as the administrators and champions of the program in the institutions where it's found. We've found that bringing them together annually for UPOP training, in-depth discussions on socialization of the program within their hospitals, best-practice sharing and hot topic brainstorming – all in an effort to promote collaboration and develop ways to continually improve and enhance the program – has become a much anticipated, effective and exciting event we all look forward too.

All 10 UPOP institutions with the program will have at least 1 delegate to represent their child life teams. Participants include:

McMaster Children’s Hospital – Hamilton, Ontario BC Children’s Hospital – Vancouver, British Columbia Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario – Ottawa, Ontario IWK Health Centre – Halifax, Nova Scotia The Hospital for Sick Children – Toronto, Ontario CHU Sainte-Justine – Montreal, Quebec Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital – Toronto, Ontario Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences – London, Ontario Emily’s House - Toronto, Ontario Lutherwood - Waterloo, Ontario

This year, we are excited to have delegates from 3 tertiary care centres join us as well. They are exploring the possibility of bringing UPOPOLIS to their units (eg. Oncology) to support the children and youth they see. We look forward to their ideas, contributions, and feedback.

We are also very excited to announce Mary Jo Haddad, KHLF Board Member and Past President & CEO of SickKids Hospital as our Keynote speaker to kick-off our meeting on Friday morning!


2:30 - 4:30 PM UPOPOLIS 2.0 Orientation for New Super Users
5:30 - 6:30 PM Welcome Cocktail Reception
6:30 - 9:00 PM Group Dinner


8:00 - 8:30 AM Breakfast Buffet Marquis Restaurant
8:30 - 8:45 AM Special Welcome & Introductions Basile Papaevangelou, Founder/President, KHLF Mary Jo Haddad, KHLF & TELUS Board Member, Past President & CEO, SickKids Hospital
8:45 - 9:30 AM Super User Needs Assessment Survey Results & Discussion Allison Sohanlal, KHLF UPOPOLIS Program Manager
9:30 - 10:15 AM UPOPOLIS 2.0 Training: CK Editor, Embedding Video, other TBD Presenter: Mario Cantin, TELUS
10:15 – 10:45 AM Hot Topic Charting & Break
10:45 – 11:45 AM The Road AheadTaking UPOP 2.0 Mobile Presenters: TELUS Team
11:45 – 12:30 PM Lunch
12:30 – 1:30 PM UPOPOLIS as Part of the Theraputic Toolbox: A Discussion of Psycho-Social Support for Youth in Hospital Presenter: Allison Sohanlal, KHLF
1:30 – 3:00 PM Hot Topics for Future Direction of UPOPOLIS: Group brainstorming Facilitators: Allison, KHLF & April Ganong, KHLF
3:00 – 3:30 PM Closing Comments & Thank You