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Children’s Advisory Council - helping shape services and research

Young clients and their siblings at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital help shape services and research through their groundbreaking children’s advisory council (CAC). Kids as young as three years old have participated on the council and shared their ideas about ways the hospital can make improvements that are meaningful to them.

The CAC’s latest project was testing therapeutic video game prototypes developed by the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI). The prototypes, a series of mini games called Botley’s Bootle Blast, are aimed at helping kids of all abilities reach goals related to their physical wellbeing.

“The video game testing is an example of how my feedback will have a direct effect on hospital clients,” said Emma, a CAC member.

Elaine Biddiss, a PEARL lab scientist at the BRI and one of the developers working on the prototypes, couldn’t agree more. “The children are really shaping the path we take in designing the interactive video games,” she said, adding that her team will continue to seek feedback from the council as the game development progresses.

During prototype testing, CAC members rotated between five gaming stations that required different types of physical movements. The game developers were able to observe how the CAC members were interacting with the prototypes and if the prototypes were suited to players with all types of physical abilities. Members also provided the researchers direct feedback about their experiences.

In the few years since the CAC was created, council members have led a number of improvement projects at the hospital, including a review of the onsite Ronald McDonald Playroom and a food tasting feedback exercise for the inpatient menu.

Daniel Scott, CAC coordinator, explained that a strength-based approach was used for the playroom review. Children were able to participate in a variety of ways that worked for them, including identifying likes and dislikes through play, taking a survey and picking out toys and equipment they liked in a catalogue.

“We wanted the feedback to be authentic and truly represent the wants and needs of the children,” said Daniel.

The playroom review led to tangible improvements to the space, including a ramp into the ball pit and a new teen corner that features a homework space with books for teens and Internet access.

Emma also participated in the playroom review and was instrumental in the creation of the teen space. “I’m really happy because people really listened to my opinions and it benefits everyone,” she said.

To learn more about Holland Bloorview’s commitment to client and family centred care and our family leadership program, which includes the CAC, visit our website.