Telus helps to launch Upopolis – a healthy space for kids to connect

Just in time for the holidays, TELUS and Kids’ Health Links Foundation (KHLF) recently announced the launch of Upopolis, an online social network designed especially for young patients in hospital.Upopolis is the first secure online social network for kids in hospital care.

Upopolis aims to make hospital walls virtually invisible between family and friends through the power of social networking. This unique website provides the best features of social networking for young patients who often feel isolated when they’re in the hospital. The site will provide a personal profile, secure e-mail, instant chat, discussion boards, personal blogs and links to games. This unique site also provides features to kids in hospital like a homework site to stay up-to-date with their schoolwork, links to health and wellness information, and connections to other children with the same condiuption.  

The website was the creation of a powerful relationship between 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. Not too long after that her friend Katy was diagnosed with cancer and had to be hospitalized for a long period of time.  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.

“Christina and I established Kids’ Health Links Foundation to make a difference in the lives of hospitalized children,” said Christina’s father, Basile Papaevangelou, who is the chairman and founder of KHLF. Christina’s father appreciated the care his daughter received so much that he wanted to make a lasting contribution to health care for kids. “With our partners, McMaster Children’s Hospital and TELUS, we are taking the first step in what we committed to accomplish: the launch of Upopolis, a
Canada-wide program that enhances the lives of hospitalized children.”

Recently, the Hosiptal for Sick Children in Toronto (SickKids) partnered up with this service to offer Upopolis to it’s patients. “Caring for children is at the heart of everything we do. We are always looking for ways to provide better care and improve the patient experience,” says Mary Jo Haddad, SickKids President and CEO. “We are excited by what Upopolis can do to enrich the lives of our patients and support SickKids’ approach to family centred-care.”

The first hospital in Canada to offer this service, however, was McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton.  “Upopolis is an exceptional program for children in hospital,” said Dr. Steer, President, McMaster Children’s Hospital. “Hospital stays can be the most challenging time of a child’s life and so it is important that we make every effort to help alleviate stress for these  children and their families and keep them connected to loved ones and friends. Kids’ Health Links Foundation and our  partners on the Upopolis initiative are paving the way with innovative technology in caring for the whole child.”

Through this partnership with KHLF, TELUS is providing a gift of technology services to develop Upopolis. The telecom giant helped build the site and will continue to provide site expansion, ongoing access to, managed Web hosting, and application support and maintenance services. “TELUS, Kids’ Health Links Foundation and McMaster Children’s Hospital are giving kids the ability to stay connected to the world while they’re in the hospital,” said Joe Natale, president TELUS Business Solutions. “At TELUS, we give where we live. We are proud to be part of the Upopolis partnership and championing the power of technology to improve the healthcare experience for children.”