When I was young, I spent a lot of time at a hospital that’s six hours away from home. It was really hard because I felt disconnected from my friends and family. Upopolis gives me a sense of friendship because it’s a secure network where I can connect and chat with others who understand me. Not just other kids, but healthcare professionals who help me get through the challenges of my diagnosis.
Upopolis is awesome! I love how you can chat with people and email friends, but I think the best part has to be how you can create your own space about anything you want, and then invite people to join! Upopolis is something that I go on almost every day! I love it and if I had one word to describe it I would say FUN!
Upopolis really helps with coping with rough times and learning new strategies to be calm and happy.
The partnership between Kids’ Health Links Foundation and TELUS is a partnership built on passion, innovation, and collaboration. Upopolis is a remarkable example of a small-scale innovation that is uniquely and significantly impacting the whole health of children and youth with long-term medical experience. There is no other social platform of its kind where this population can connect safely and securely with one another. As the technology partner and architect of Upopolis since its inception, TELUS and TELUS Health stand poised to expand the Upopolis network globally.
Upopolis is a valuable psycho-social therapeutic social support network, which is available to SickKids’ youth patient population. Administered by the Upopolis team in partnership with our Child Life staff, Upopolis can help alleviate the anxiety and isolation often experienced by youth while in hospital by providing a safe and secure online platform where they can connect with other patients and friends. Our clinicians are also able to access kid-friendly medical content and videos, which can be beneficial to help patients deal with the fear and anxiety associated with their illness.
When I first heard about Upopolis from TELUS Health, I was amazed by the simplicity, yet high necessity, of such a platform. Being a mother myself, I know how hard it is to be separated from your kids, even in a non-medical context. Upopolis is that type of innovation that is of utmost necessity – not only does it help youth and their families gain some respite from illness, but I also see a great advantage for healthcare practitioners, who can now spend more of their precious time treating their patients.
The following is a quote provided by Dr. Jennifer Stinson, research lead for “The Internet as a Source of Support for Youth with Chronic Conditions supported by a grant funded from the Kids Health Links Foundation”:
Social support has the potential to positively influence health outcomes of patients by addressing:
feelings of isolation and loneliness, promoting positive outlook and motivation, helping to reinforce the learning and practice of pain self-management skills.
Emerging evidence from our research is that they like:
communicating with someone who has same/similar illness, made them feel less alone, able to get advice/tips from other users, connecting with other patients in same hospital.
Upopolis provides a unique social platform to connect kids and teens with hospital experience or chronic medical conditions. Having this type of virtual network provides an important vehicle for dialogue and expression as youth typically have reduced social participation as a result of their illness and/or hospitalization. It is not commonplace for two children/youth with the same or similar diagnosis (e.g. cancer) to be in the same class, or even the same school or neighbourhood. The diagnosis itself may at times feel very isolating. There is however such value in connecting with other kids who ‘just get it.’ A safe space to express oneself through writing, asking questions, sharing coping strategies, and supporting one another is what Upopolis does best. Even just reading the posts of others can empower a child/youth in knowing he/she is not alone. Add to this the resources with appropriate health information, virtual hospital tours, and informative videos with healthcare professionals, and this may aid in better understanding of diagnoses and/or treatments. It may also encourage youth to feel more comfortable in asking questions about their specific situation.
Being on Upopolis has allowed me to see the therapeutic value of Upopolis first hand. Upopolis promotes socialization between youth from different demographics by allowing them to connect and communicate in a safe environment. It is important to modernize our practices as society continues to develop, and today’s youth continue to have a growing desire to share their stories on social media. It is nice to be able to offer them this unique platform!
Upopolis is an amazing tool that provides an outlet for youth to express themselves and share their experiences, freely, and openly. Patients often express that they feel isolated and alone, Upopolis helps alleviate those feelings. The diagnosis-specific spaces are an awesome way for patients to connect with each other and know they are not alone!
The fact that the support is online is something that youth can relate to nowadays. They are connected on many other social media sites and this connects patients on a much more therapeutic and deeper level.