At the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre, staff of the Child Life Department have without a doubt the most fun! In this department, staff holds the big responsibility of promoting a happy and child-friendly atmosphere while children are being cared for in hospital.
My name is Florence Williams, and I have been working at the Janeway for 36 years. For most of that time, I have been working as a recreation therapy worker in the Child Life Department. I have always enjoyed children, doing crafts and taking them on outings. Coming from a big family, I had lots of nieces and nephews. I guess that’s where my love of children started. I cannot imagine what better place to start my career other than with the Janeway Child Life Department!
The Child Life Department hosts all sorts of celebrations and events throughout the year to ensure that children at the Janeway experience the everyday joys of life while being away from home. To give you an idea, we organize some of the most amazing concerts, birthdays, medical milestones with end-of-chemo cakes, Valentine’s Day celebrations, Christmas and the list goes on! Believe it or not, next to Christmas, Easter is the next busiest time of the year for us.
When that big, white, furry rabbit visits the children, you can see the twinkle in their eyes. Easter creates so much excitement for our patients, their parents as well as our staff!
Just before Easter arrives, we make sure to decorate the hospital with festive banners, streamers, hanging decorations and more. This lets the children know that the Easter Bunny is on his way!
One of my most favourite things to do is to take on the role of being one of the Easter Bunny’s helpers. It is very important to ensure that all of the children in hospital, ranging from newborn to 18 years, receive an Easter gift from the Easter Bunny!
Every year, the staff of the Child Life Department make up approximately 120 Easter bags. These tasty Easter goodie bags are filled with Easter hay, stuffed bunnies, treats and, of course, chocolate! To make sure that all of our patients can participate in this wonderful Easter tradition, we work closely with dieticians who recommend some different snacks for patients who may have special dietary needs. It is so important to us that every child not only receives an Easter goodie bag, but that they can enjoy their treats safely as well!
We also do an incredible job at organizing a range of fun Easter activities for the children throughout the day, but for some of these activities, we do get a little help from our community members! One of the children’s favourite Easter traditions is making Easter Bunny cakes. This beloved tradition has been bringing Easter cheer for 20 years or more, thanks to Mr. J. Murley, also known as our “Vachon Man,” who has been supplying the number one ingredient to make these special cakes – ½ Moons!
We are so thankful to receive support from our community when it comes to special traditions such as Easter. These kind gestures help put a smile on the children’s faces. The generosity of our community members surprises me time and time again.
The children can barely handle their excitement while they transform their ½ Moon treats into Easter Bunny cakes! These wonderful cakes are decorated with icing and adorned with jellybeans, sprinkles, marshmallows, licorice, colored coconut and more! The Easter Bunny helpers are always close by to lend a helping hand, and to make sure that every child has a chance to create their own replica of the Easter Bunny.
It brings us great joy to make things “egg-stra” special for patients of the Janeway.
While it truly is all fun and games for the children, the staff of the Child Life Department makes a conscious effort every day to provide the best experiences possible for our patients and their families.
Happy Easter everyone! ■
This story was written by Florence Williams, a recreation therapy worker with the Child Life Department at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre.