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Port Perry community celebrates the unveiling of two 'Smilezones' at local hospital

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

SCUG­OG: Dignitaries, charity and local hospital representatives gathered at the Lakeridge Health Port Perry hospital, on Thursday, May 4th, to unveil two new 'Smilezones.'

The Smilezones are in the Emergency Department (ED) and the New Life Centre. A press release, from Lakeridge Health, explained what 'Smilezones' are.

"Designed to create therapeutic and interactive spaces, for children of all ages, Smilezones provide children and their families with comforting areas to enjoy, while in the hospital. They are custom designed and backed by the notion, 'Every child deserves to smile,' the motto of the Smilezone Foundation," the press release stated. "At Port Perry Hospital, the New Life Centre is now home to vibrant murals and new whiteboards which showcase newborn photos from throughout the years, with added space for the years to come. In the ED, beautiful murals and a multilingual sign welcomes visitors, as they come in. In addition, two new iPad stations were installed, equipped with interactive games for children and their families to use while waiting."

Lakeridge Health Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Christopher Squire talked about how these 'Smilezones' will benefit patients.

"As many of you can imagine, or perhaps have even experienced yourselves, coming to the hospital can be overwhelming and uncomfortable for both children and adults," he said. "The addition of scenes of nature and lovely painted murals may help to provide a sense of calm and comfort to many patients. The new Smilezones in our emergency department and new life centre are designed to be therapeutic and interactive spaces."

These Smilezones were made possible by a donation, from local residents Gilbert Kee and Kathy Perna, to the Smilezone Foundation.

"When we first heard of the mission of the Smilezone Foundation, to help bring light to tough days, by creating joyful and engaging spaces for children, we knew we had to bring a Smilezone to Port Perry Hospital. Your passion and dedication have made it possible for us to gather here today, to celebrate this achievement," Mr. Kee said.

Ms. Perna said, she hopes the community enjoys the new Smilezones as much as she has in being a part of this process.

"It is our sincere wish this brings comfort and joy and a sense of ease to every child and family who walks through the doors," she told those in attendance.

In a statement, Scott Bachly, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Smilezone Foundation, discussed what it was like to be a part of this project.

"Smilezone Foundation is truly thrilled to be a part of this exciting revitalization at Port Perry Hospital. We are delighted with the new Smilezones, giving patients and their families a reason to smile during their hospital visit. A huge thank-you to Gilbert Kee and Kathy Perna, as we recognize them for their support in making these Smilezones possible."

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