"The Story of How I Became a Child Life Volunteer" – by K. Elina

K. Elina is currently a Kids' Health Links Foundation Ambassador and is a former Upopolis user. She took it upon herself to write this blog post on her experience with the peer-support platform, her passion for the profession of Child Life, and her life as a difference-maker. Thank you K. Elina for your dedication to Upopolis over the years and your commitment to making the world a better place. You are an inspiration! 

"Having Mitochondrial Complex One and Four Disease means I am immunocompromised, and has caused neutropenia. This limits me from participating in community-based settings including doing things that interest me, like volunteering for hospitals. But as a teen, I was introduced to a virtual program called Upopolis. I first became a user, and eventually an online Mentor to other youth in various leadership roles on platform.

Then when I was 19, I gathered research in resources for Child Life Specialists (a profession that works with children, youth and families in hospitals) and participated in speaking events answering questions about my experience being a pediatric patient. I developed my own personal blog and over time, through learning from the Khan Academy's Entrepreneur courses and becoming a Khan Academy Support Advocate Volunteer, I learned how Entrepreneurship can impact the world.

While I will never be a Child Life Specialist, I do have the title of Child Life Volunteer. As an Artist, and with the many skill sets I’ve learned over time, I plan to deliver my skills for free to all Child Life Specialists. I know this profession makes a difference, and for any youth out there, no matter what challenges you face, there are many ways you can help make a difference.

After all, technology allowed me to accomplish anything. Everyone in my life shaped me, mentored me and cared for me as I am today, and because of this, I withstand the odds that were stack against me and push ahead. My most happiest part of all is my extreme gratitude to carry the title and term "Child Life Volunteer”. A profession that works hard to make sure pediatric patients receive more then medicine but also receive the gift of being able to be Child or Teen during challenging times. And, maybe one day, becoming a Child Life Volunteer virtually like I did.

Either way, I take the title "Child Life" close to my heart, having volunteered for Upopolis and now the charity that founded the program, Kids’ Health Link Health Foundation. Without the support of Child Life professionals, who administer and manage Upopolis, I would not have made it this far. Imagine for a moment if a pediatric patients like me, who were isolated, didn't have Upopolis? What would have I become?

Your funding dollars help many youth everyday on Upopolis. Your support helps users gain confidence, leadership and feel connected, like I did, because of the program. Please considering donating to Kids’ Health Links Foundation and supporting Upopolis so other youth can benefit too, get the peer-support available and the access youth-friendly information that Upopolis has to offer.

In Honour and Memory of my Papa who encouraged and supported me in my volunteer roles; who was the greatest supporter of what Upopolis did for me. Every donation made helps another pediatric patient benefit like I did."

- K. Elina