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“Upopolis has changed my life” – Jenna’s journey

Have you ever heard of GivingTuesday?

It’s a global generosity movement always held the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday to encourage communities, organizations and individuals to come together to support their favourite causes.

For this year’s GivingTuesday, we reached out to our youth members to ask them to give us a few reasons as to why someone should choose to support Upopolis during their GivingTuesday act of kindness.

Jenna, a member of Upopolis for over 6 years, said this:

Hi my name is Jenna I’m 17 years old. When I was 11 years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. It was really hard at first. I didn’t know a single soul who had JIA let alone another youth who spent so much time at the hospital as I did.

I got weird looks at sleepovers because I had to take so many medications. I had to miss a lot of school due to appointments and countless sick days. Most of my classmates and friends at the time really didn’t understand me and talking to other 6th graders was challenging. I had a tough time comprehending my diagnosis at such a young age it was even harder explaining it to other young people who often times weren’t willing to listen or understand. I felt lost and alone.

My rheumatology team recommended I go to a specific camp so I could meet other youth who had similar struggles to me. This camp was really helpful and I made friendships that’ll last forever. At camp, the counsellors told me about an online platform called Upopolis. They told me it was a site that youth across Canada could connect with other youth whom spend time in hospitals.

I was so overjoyed because after I left camp I had a place I could go to connect with kids with similar challenges to me throughout the year. I made so many friends and was even able to find volunteer opportunities through the Upopolis website. I especially enjoyed that during hospital stays, I had people to talk to who really understood what I was going through and supported me endlessly.

Through my 6 years on Upopolis the platform has grown so much! New friends join all the time and I’m always so excited to meet and talk to new people via Upopolis. I feel safe, and in the early days Upopolis was the only social media app my parents really trusted because they knew it was monitored closely by an awesome team of child life specialists. In the pandemic Upopolis was a staple in my life. I’m grateful for all the lonely days I always had someone to talk to and be with. On Upopolis we all care about each other and it’s a beautiful thing. In my time on Upopolis I’ve recruited many of my local friends who’ve joined and also fallen in love with all the platform has to offer. Upopolis has expanded to offer support to youth who are grieving a loss of a loved one (I have utilized their resources a few times since I lost a lot of close people when I was younger. The Upopolis team has shown compassion and it really helped me through my grief) and they also offer supports to siblings of those who have health problems.

Upopolis has changed my life as well as many other people I know. Being a sick kid is hard and connecting with other sick kids really helps. I’m forever grateful for all my time on the site. If you can this GivingTuesday, please consider donating to Upopolis so they can keep growing and expanding and offering more services to extraordinary youth like me across Canada!

If you’d like to donate to Upopolis, please visit https://secure3.i-doxs.net/kidshealthlinks/OneTime_Add.asp.

Any donation, big or small, is so appreciated. We are eternally grateful for your support in helping us help youth!

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