The Finnspiration Smiles Fund: Helping Kids be Kids.
The Finnspiration Smiles Fund funds projects to improve the experience of kids undergoing medical treatment for cancer. Our goal with this Fund is to help kids just be kids, to help kids like Finn to run, jump, bounce, dance, sing, smile, love, and ride while in treatment.
The Finnspiration Smiles fund is made up mostly of the donations made to us by schools participating in PJs with a Purpose events, kids donating birthday money, and funds raised at bake sales and other kid-spired fundraisers, as well as funds given by larger groups such as Hockey Fights Cancer and Telus Communications.
We take what we have learned about Finn’s joy of life and during our family’s experience of kid’s cancer treatment and combine that with the Finnspiration funds to create and implement changes designed to put smiles on the faces of kids going through treatment today.
In 2013 we dedicated money in the Finnspiration Smiles Fund to a project designed to transform the experience of children undergoing radiation therapy at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver.
You see, children with cancer who must undergo radiation treatment are not treated at BC Children’s Hospital. Rather, they are treated at the BC Cancer Agency – in a facility and program originally designed to treat adults. Efforts have been made in the past few years to provide a more child friendly atmosphere for children receiving treatment at the BC Cancer Agency but much more was needed. Funds from the Finnspiration Smiles Fund and family input from the Team Finn Foundation have now been dedicated to make the experience of receiving radiation treatment as low stress as possible. For example, nurses and radiation technicians at the BC Cancer Agency are receiving training on how to work with children and families to make the otherwise scary radiation experience as stress-free as possible.
Here are some of the changes made possible with the Finnspiration Smiles Fund in 2013:
Walls of the paediatric recovery room at the BC Cancer Agency have been magically transformed from a dull brown to a beautiful, relaxing scene of the Pacific North-West.
Scary radiation masks used for kids with upper body cancers are being transformed into cool super hero and sports masks.
While the painted masks are not only less scary, they also provide a sense of empowerment to the child.
Tablets were purchased and loaded with cool movies and apps for adolescents aged 1 to 21. Engineers at the BC Cancer Agency designed an arm to attach the tablets to the radiation machine. Tablets distract and calm children before, after and during treatment – reducing the number of anesthetics kids have to endure.
We used some of the money that schools raised in 2013-2014 to help transform a rather tired looking tub room used by oncology (and other) patients at BC Children’s Hospital into a warm and welcoming place of comfort and relaxation:
In 2014, we met with the doctors and nurses at BC Children’s Hospital to discuss virtual reality as a pain management tool resulting in a pilot project that uses virtual reality goggles to calm and distract children going through cancer treatments in 2015. A portion of the funds raised for the Finnspiration Smiles Fund since 2014 have been earmarked for to further develop and purchase virtual reality technology to be used by kids with cancer at BC Children’s Hospital.
With your help, we will continue to take on a new and exciting initiatives to transform the experience of kids receiving treatment.