Singer Alessia Cara Helps Open Smilezones in Hometown

By Jim Barber 8/30/18 |

Alessia Cara cuts ribbon for revamped SmileZone — photo credit: 416Kings Photography

There were smiles aplenty as Canadian pop singer Alessia Cara lent her considerable international popularity to highlight the opening of revitalized facilities at a children’s medical treatment centre in her hometown of Brampton, Ontario.

On Aug. 29, Cara, along with officials from the ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development — whose clients have a wide range of physical and/or development and communication disabilities — and the Smilezone Foundation, cut the ribbon on three revamped spaces at the centre. Cara, who is an official ambassador for the Smilezone Foundation, was also joined by more than 150 children, family members and staff at the unveiling.

Speaking of the significance of Cara’s involvement, Smilezone Foundation director and current Bell media president Randy Lennox, said, “Alessia Cara brought huge smiles to so many faces at yesterday’s grand opening, and we send our most sincere thanks to her for her time and dedication to Smilezone.”

Alessia Cara with some ErinoakKids —photo credit — 416Kings Photography
Smilezone Foundation provides the funding for the refurbishment of rooms into ‘smilezones’. For ErinoakKids they helped renovate what is now a more welcoming main reception area, featuring interactive projection flooring. There is also a newly-painted Respite Wing, displaying bright murals and a music-themed Youth Room.

A press release from the Smilezone Foundation said that these new Smilezones “create relaxed and fun atmospheres designed to make children feel comfortable and confident during therapy, while complementing the extraordinary care delivered by the centre’s dedicated inter-professional teams.”

ErinoakKids Centre is the largest treatment centre in Ontario. According to its website, it provides specialized therapy and medical services to more than 17,000 children with special needs and their families, from throughout Peel Region, Halton Region and Dufferin County every year.

“Our clients have a wide range of physical and/or developmental disabilities, communication disorders, autism, and some of the children we care for are blind and/or deaf. Serving Halton, Peel, Dufferin – and for some of our services – Waterloo and Wellington – ErinoakKids has approximately 750 staff members and four sites from which we provide a comprehensive array of medical, therapy and support services that help children and their families,” said the ErinoakKids website.

“Smilezone Foundation is honoured to brighten the experience of children receiving services at ErinoakKids,” said Adam Graves, a long-time former NHL player boasting two Stanley Cups to his resume, who is a co-founder of the Smilezone Foundation.

“We are grateful for Alessia’s support throughout this project. She is an inspiration to the children and families at ErinoakKids, and the new music-themed Smilezone inspired by her will give kids a reason to smile during their therapy and treatment sessions.”

According to the Smilezone Foundation website, the mission of the organization is “to transform areas (“Zones”) in hospitals and other healthcare centres in order to improve the lives of children facing illness, disabilities, and physical or emotional obstacles.”

And they do this by creating an atmosphere that takes some of the stress away from the treatment process the kids are undergoing.

”We believe that every child deserves to smile, no matter what circumstances they face. A Zone provides a warm, safe, and accessible space for children, youth, and their families who are facing health challenges – simply, a place to enjoy just being a kid! Zones can be transformed in existing waiting rooms, treatment rooms, or custom patient care spaces. Our Zones provide interactive and inclusive possibilities to all children, sharing with them the universal sign of happiness… a smile,” said the Smilezone Foundation’s website.

The organization has only been in existence since 2012 but has already transformed 180 Smilezones in the province of Ontario.

Officials with ErinoakKids said the Smilezones have a demonstrably positive effect on their patients.

“Since the installation of the very first Smilezone at ErinoakKids in August 2013, the impact on our clients and families has been remarkable,” said ErinoakKids president and CEO Bridget Fewtell.

“Each day we see the faces of children and youth light up at the sight of Smilezone’s playful and transformed spaces. These welcoming environments help make the hard work of therapy and treatment sessions easier, and help children feel settled and secure while in our care.”

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