Levv Shatil and Hashir Imitaz displaying some of the objects used by Youth CoRE to connect with patients

Peer Support for Kids Changes Their Hospital Experience

It’s scary enough for kids and teens to live with a life-threatening health condition, but when their days change from figuring out their school routine to navigating appointments and hospital visits, it can be even more frightening. 

Having to learn all the medical jargon and types of treatments involved in their care can make dealing with injury and illness an isolating experience. Friends don’t know what to say or simply have trouble understanding. 

Our kids need help coping with hospitalization… 

And in 2019, the Children’s Youth Advisory Council (CYAC) at London Health Sciences Centre knew just what young patients like them needed.  

Together, Levv Shatil — a Children’s Heroes Ambassador with Children’s since 2018 and co-chair of CYAC — and Hashir Imitaz designed the Youth CoRE program (Youth Connect, Relate and Engage).

Youth CoRE is a healthy outlet for kids to process what they’re going through. Former Children’s patients provide paediatric inpatients with peer support and the chance to just be kids. This dedicated team of five helps kids experience the hospital environment with friendly faces, the latest video games and most importantly, someone close to their age who has lived experience with hospital life. 

At first, the program ran 4 days a week for 4 hours a day. Day by day, they started changing the hospital experience for kids, teens and their families… 

“I was able to talk with someone who understands what it’s like to be stuck in a room. They taught me how to play new games and made the hospital less scary and less boring. They listened to me when I missed home. They told me how they felt with long stays and gave me suggestions.”  

“Youth CoRE treated my son like was a regular kid and didn’t purposely lose or make things easy on my son just because he is sick. He was a great opponent, winning his first game of Rat Race! My son really enjoyed his afternoon distraction.”  

Today, the program has absolutely taken off. Youth CoRE now: 

  • runs 7 days a week, 8 hours a day 
  • engages patients in over 3,100 visits a year 
  • is a designated Leading Practice 
  • is crucial in improving the lives of kids across hospital wards 

By building strong relationships with hospital staff, Youth CoRE continues to expand, now offering a group program on one of Children’s mental health care units and serves the Dialysis unit! 

“On behalf of our patients, we wish to thank you and your YOUTH CORE team for providing programming for eating disorder day treatment this past summer! We enjoyed having Nev and Diana provide crafts and games each Thursday. We look forward to working again together next summer!” 

The direct outcome of Youth CoRE is beyond words. Youth CoRE’s peer support provides kids and teens with people who understand the complexities of hospital life and give patients a chance to express their feelings with a trusted friend.  

Children’s Health Foundation is proud that our donors’ support helps ensure kids and teens have the peer support they need to improve their health care journey. 

Read more about the Youth CoRE program and how it has affected one particular Children’s Hero Ambassador right here!

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