Three Kiwanis clubs reached children in local hospitals, thanks to support from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund program.
By Erin Chandler
Through its Pediatric Medicine Support Grant Program, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund awarded grants for three worthy Kiwanis club projects in 2023. With that financial support, clubs are helping to renovate an entire hospital wing, bring much-needed equipment to a new play therapy room and jumpstart a new service for kids and families experiencing medical emergencies.
Each of these projects had a common starting point: club partnerships with hospital staff and administration. After discussions regarding what kids need when dealing with overwhelming situations, each project was tailored to improve kids’ physical, mental and emotional health.
Collaboration and renovation
Bustamante Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in Jamaica, serving tens of thousands of kids. When the Kiwanis Club of Toronto Caribbean, Ontario, Canada, reached out to ask how it could help, members learned about plans for a much-needed renovation of the burn unit and plastic surgery ward. They also learned there was no budget to get it done. With a pediatric medicine support grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund — and in collaboration with the Kiwanis Club of Capital City Kingston, Jamaica — the Toronto Caribbean club is helping to bring the ward up to medical standards and creating a safer and more welcoming environment for young patients.
The renovation will include an aesthetic redesign, with new paint, curtains, artwork and greenery; an unused dressing room retrofitted as a separate area for outpatient procedures, to help reduce the risk of infection; and an upgraded dressing room for inpatients, with new equipment and supplies. Other additions include a designated area called The Reading Nook, which will be established and maintained by the Capital City Kingston club — and where local Builders Club and Key Club members will join the Kiwanians in reading to patients.
New hospital, new ways to serve kids
Like Bustamante Children’s Hospital, Trinity Hospital in the U.S. is vital to a large region. The hospital serves patients, including thousands of children, from 25 counties in North Dakota and Montana. The new Trinity Hospital facility, which opened in the spring of 2023, replaces its 100-year-old predecessor and boasts significant upgrades — thanks in part to the Kiwanis Club of Minot, North Dakota, and a pediatric medicine support grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.
For the new pediatric unit’s play therapy room, the Minot Kiwanians funded the purchase of all equipment and helped set it up prior to the grand opening. In the new room, supervised play therapy will help young patients and their families feel less anxious during the often-stressful experience of hospitalization — and help doctors better gauge and even speed along young patients’ progress.
Bringing bedside comfort
The Kiwanis Club of Long Beach, California, U.S., also aims to make hospital patients and their families more comfortable. Working with MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach administration and Child Life Program staff, the club developed its bedside comfort bags project.
A pediatric medicine support grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund is helping the Long Beach Kiwanians purchase items for infants, kids and adolescents. Each month, the club will enlist the help of Key Club and Circle K International members to stuff the items — including books, toys, crayons, coloring books, journals and socks — into 125 drawstring bags, which are brightly colored and Kiwanis-branded. They’ll deliver the bags to the hospital, where the items will ease the anxiety of pediatric patients and their siblings — about 1,500 children per year. The club will also create and restock a pantry for parents and caregivers, so that Child Life specialists and nurses can provide toiletries, notepads, puzzle books and pencils, and even loan phone chargers as needed.
How do I apply for a Pediatric Medicine Support Grant?
Made possible by the generosity of the Kiwanis governors’ classes of 2005-06 and 2006-07, the Pediatric Medicine Support Grant Program provides a onetime grant for clubs to fund projects that specifically support local children’s medical centers. Grant money can be used to purchase products or supplies for patients’ hospital stays or to support a capital improvement project.