Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Emma, I’m 11 years old and I’m in grade 6. I have type-1 diabetes and I was diagnosed when I was 10-months old.
How much time do you spend in hospitals each year?
I have been going to the hospital every 3 months since I was diagnosed. Each appointment I need to get blood taken and meet with the doctor, nurse, dietitian, and social worker. My appointments take about 1.5 hours so each year I spend about 6 hours at the hospital – phew that was a lot of math!
Tell us about your involvement in designing the Smilezones at Markham-Stouffville hospital.
did you choose what you did?
My mom was asked by Julie at Markham Stouffville if I would be willing to provide some suggestions about what would make kids more comfortable at the hospital. I suggested colourful spaces, toys to fidget with, and comfortable places to sit. I thought these things would make it more comfortable and help with anxiety.
How have your experiences at Markham-Stouffville Hospital changed since the Smilezone project?
It was a big surprise when I came to my appointment after the changes. I really liked the murals, the technology, and having my appointment from a bean bag chair. I was distracted from my typical anxiety and it felt less like a appointment.
What role do you think the hospital environment plays in the healing journey of children receiving treatment such as yourself?
The environment is really important. It can really scary for kids and between the really nice doctors and nurses along with it not feeling so plain and boring, it makes it easier for me to keep going every 3 months which is important to keep me healthy.
What is your favourite feature of the revamped spaces?
The projector is definitely my favourite thing and I really like the beanbag chair too!
Do you have any advice for children who are going through similar experiences as yourself, or who may be seeking medical treatment for the first time?
I would tell other kids to be brave, it’s ok to cry, have a favourite stuffie, and mom and dad give good hugs.