Spirit of Giving


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It all adds up!

Donors have a tremendous impact on the 290,000 patients cared for at the IWK each year. Funding needs change from year to year and the IWK must be in a position to respond quickly to the most urgent care priorities. We recently received a very generous donation from the employees at Ledcor. Jerry & John share why they chose to support the IWK. 

Ledcor employees making a generous donation to support patients at the IWK.

Ledcor employees making a generous donation to support patients at the IWK.

On November 27th, we had the honor of presenting a cheque for $10,373.42 on behalf of the employees at Ledcor to the IWK Foundation in Halifax, the largest children’s hospital east of Montreal. For those of you who are not familiar with Ledcor, we started in Leduc, Alberta in 1947 and have since grown to become one of North America’s largest and most diversified construction companies.

Although our head office is  located in British Columbia, many of our employees have ties to the Maritimes, and as a company we recognize the importance of supporting the  communities where we live and work. Over the last ten years, , Ledcor has contributed over $23 million to charitable causes with a focus on  supporting pediatric medical facilities and critical illness initiatives across North America.

Through our Ledcor Cares Employee Campaign, employees are encouraged to support  causes that are meaningful to them through a variety of ways, including a payroll deduction program and other creative fundraising activities such as raffles, auctions, and 50-50 draws. What makes Ledcor’s campaign so special is the fact that Ledcor matches each dollar raised by employees, doubling the actual donation. Employees have the opportunity to have their donations go to their charity of choice, and of course, being Bluenosers, the IWK was our  obvious choice.

IWK Foundation employee, Jeremy Godfrey with Jerry and John from Ledcor.

IWK Foundation employee, Jeremy Godfrey with Jerry and John from Ledcor.

During our visit to the IWK, we were privileged to be given the opportunity to see a before and after tour of the emergency department and the recently upgraded operating rooms and facilities. The staff were friendly, helpful and spoke of the heart-felt appreciation for all donations whether big or small. It all adds up! It was a wonderful, enlightening but humbling experience and without doubt it has encouraged us to get the word out about supporting our local communities.  As individuals and  as a company, we look forward to having a long term relationship with the IWK. We wish the staff and patients the best of health and happiness in the future.

Jerry & John

Thank you so much to Ledcor and their employees for their support! To make a gift to the IWK Foundation visit www.iwkfoundation.org


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I’m Tristan Gallant, I’m 10 years old, and I approve of this message.

Moncton Change Bandit, Tristan Gallant

IWK Moncton Change Bandit Hero, Tristan Gallant

Tristan Gallant is this year’s Moncton Change Bandit Hero for the K94-5 & 103.9 MAX FM Cares for Kids IWK Radiothon. For the last few weeks, Tristan has been working hard to help raise $15,000 to support the most urgent priorities of the IWK Health Centre.

I felt very happy when the IWK Foundation asked me to be the IWK Change Bandit Hero this year. It’s really nice [to be selected] and really fun being on the radio. It’s really really fun. Everybody wants to talk to me and take pictures of me.

You can raise money as a change bandit by doing things like a sock hop and a hat day at school; by telling everyone you know how great the IWK is, and by collecting coins at a big store like Superstore. Your parents and friends can put their change all together and put it in your loot bag.

I like the nurses and doctors and Child Life people at the IWK. All the people there like Kate, and Carol, all the doctors and nurses, and all the rest of the people there are really nice to me.

The IWK is important to me because they helped me and a lot of other kids feel better, and they also saved my life when I had Cancer.

People should give money to the Change Bandit program to help IWK buy even better machines and better medicines to help kids feel better. I’m Tristan Gallant, I’m 10 years old, and I approve of this message. 🙂

The 5th Annual K 94-5 & 103.9 MAX FM Cares for Kids IWK Radiothon will be broadcasting live from Champlain Place Mall February 20 & 21 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.. 

Make a gift to the IWK Radiothon.


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All children have a right to live their lives free of sickness and strife

The Dalhousie Commerce Society (DCS) is proud to host the annual Halifax event for the National Inside Ride Tour. It is a fantastic initiative and it is our pleasure to do all that we can to give back to the community.

The Dalhousie Commerce Society

The Dalhousie Commerce Society

The Inside Ride is a unique initiative not only because the funds raised go specifically to children who are bravely fighting cancer, but it’s a cross-Canada tour as well. Beginning in Newfoundland on a bus that holds over 40 stationary bikes, it travels across the country to Vancouver, stopping at multiple Inside Ride fundraising events in cities and towns along the way.

The DCS supports the IWK Health Centre because we believe all children have a right to live their lives free of sickness and strife. The services provided by the IWK give children the opportunity to receive care as close to home as possible. The Inside Ride raises funds for children who are living with cancer and particular to the Halifax initiative, half the funds raised are donated to the IWK oncology unit and the other to Camp Goodtime – a one-week camp for children fighting cancer where kids experience awesome camp activities canoeing, swimming, arts and crafts and outdoor education!

The Halifax event on October 3rd is the second stop after St. John’s (yes, the bus hops on the Newfoundland ferry!). After two months of fundraising, participants come together and celebrate by taking turns riding the stationary bikes. It is an amazing event filled with contagious enthusiasm and the DCS is happy to host it year after year!

The DCS has raised over $20,000 from the Inside Ride over the past two years and we are excited to add to it this year! We hope to see you there!

To learn more or participate in Halifax’s National Inside Ride, click here.


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Leaving a Gift for Tomorrow

Mary Theresa Ross is the Manager of  Personal & Planned Gifts with the IWK Health Centre Foundation. If you have any questions, or would like further information on how to make a planned gift to the IWK Foundation, please call Mary Theresa at 902-470-8240.

Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned Gifts

Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned Gifts

Each of us possesses the power to provide a lasting legacy to charitable causes we feel are important. A gift in your will not only provides tremendous personal satisfaction , but allows the IWK to plan for future projects with greater certainty and use donations to greater effect.

For me, working at the IWK Foundation is so much more than a career, it is my absolute passion. I believe in the need because I’ve seen it first hand. My daughter, Jody, spent more than four and half years as an inpatient being treated at the Health Centre.

I used to reflect on what it would be like for Maritime Families if the IWK was not here. A gift in a Will helps the Foundation with the security of knowing the funds are in place to allow us to continue to grow and provide care for future generations. It helps ensure the future will be stronger. Your planning is a part of how we help families.

Here is the top 10 things you can do today to leave a gift in your will to your favourite charitable cause.

Sincerely, Mary Theresa Ross, IWK Health Centre Foundation

Top 10 Things You Can Do Today to Leave a Legacy

1.) Prepare a will.

2.) Leave a gift in your will for the not-for-profit organization that makes a difference in your life.

3.) Leave a specific dollar amount or a percentage of your assets to a not-for-profit organization.

4.) Consider using assets for your legacy gift.

5.) Name a not-for-profit as a beneficiary of your RRSP, RRIF or pension plan.

6.) Name your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary of an existing life insurance policy.

7.) Purchase a new life insurance policy naming your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary.

8.) Remember loved ones with memorial gifts.

9.) Encourage family and friends to leave gifts to not-for-profit in their wills.

10.) Ask your financial or estate planning advisor to include charitable giving as part of your financial plan and to incorporate in their counsel to other clients.

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation. 


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IWK 250 Health Centre Visit

2013 marks the seventh edition of the IWK 250.Image

The IWK 250 is coming up this weekend at the Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish and as part of the event lead-up, we were proud to welcome one of NASCAR’s most popular and respected drivers, Brad Keselowski, to the IWK Health Centre on Thursday.

It was an exciting day for the patients and families at the IWK. Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion and the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion, visited along with the special race car he will drive in this weekend’s IWK 250. Called the Cat Car for Kids, patients and their families had the opportunity to sign their names on the car, which is sponsored by Atlantic Cat.

The minute Brad arrived he was instantly drawn to the patients in attendance. He spent time interacting with them and made sure every patient who wanted a photo or an autograph got it. He definitely made his visit worth while and made the patients his first priority, which was great. 

The IWK 250 would not be possible without the dedication of co-founders John Chisholm and Steve Lewis – they took a sport they are both passionate about and created an event to support a cause they both believe in.

This year marks the seventh edition of the IWK 250, which is widely known as the best stock car race in Canada. Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body, the event has raised awareness and more than $130,000 for the IWK Health Centre since 2007.

Funds raised support the IWK’s Excellence in Specialized Care Fund. This fund supports the Health Centre’s top priority needs ensuring the IWK will continue to grow as a world-class specialized care facility for our region’s women and children.

Thanks to everyone who made the IWK 250 Health Centre visit a great success and good luck to Brad Keselowski in the IWK 250 race!


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Made-to-Order Independence

This article was written by Debra Wells-Hopey for the Spring/Summer issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre.

11-year-old Taya and occupational therapist Julia Gates

11-year-old Taya and occupational therapist Julia Gates

How a customized wheelchair program provides quality of life for hundreds of kids.

Taya is spirited, bright and patient as she describes the way she gets around in the world.

“When I move my head left, I turn left,” she says enthusiastically, even though she must have explained this to people many times over. “When I move my head right, I go right. And when I move my head back, I go straight forward.”

At 11 years-old, Taya has Cerebral Palsy and is a long time visitor to IWK Specialty Seating, a service within the IWK’s Rehabilitation Service. The service offers assessment and provision of customized seating and positioning equipment, including seating inserts, wheelchairs, special-needs strollers, bath seats, car seats and toileting aids.

Julia Gates, Occupational Therapist in Specialty Seating, and Nancy Cashen, Operations Manager for Rehabilitation Services, have known Taya since she was three years old. “This program is designed to assist children who can’t walk on their own, most often due to Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy or Cerebral Palsy,” explained Gates. “Children are referred to the program as early as 14 months and stay with us until they are ready to transition to adult health care.”

Gates explained that although children this young are able to still use a stroller, it means they are dependent on others to get around — at an age when they want to start exploring the world on their own.

“Independence is an essential part in a child’s growth and development,” added Cashen.

Specialty Seating at the IWK consists of Cashen and Gates, as well as a Specialty Seating Technician, David Beattie, and a Funding Coordinator. Together, along with the family, this team determines what kind of wheelchair would be best for the child.

“We take many factors into account,” says Gates. “For instance, a level of hand mobility is essential for maneuvering a manual wheelchair, but not necessary for a power wheelchair.”

The amount of seating support required is a complex assessment that is completed by the occupational therapist and takes into account the disease prognosis, planned orthopaedic surgeries, maintenance of skin integrity, comfort, functional abilities and wheelchair skills. All children are different, and the amount of support required could be viewed as mild, moderate, or complex. Generally, seating for a mild support is not custom made, and may be arranged through a local wheelchair supplier in the community. The seating for children who require moderate or complex support is custom made by the Specialty Seating Service at the IWK.

There is a workshop onsite at the IWK where Beattie employs his expertise. For specialized seating, an impression is made on a mould that resembles a large bean bag. This shape can then be transferred to a 3D digital model on the computer. These images are sent via email to the United States where the only machine of its kind in North America manufactures the seat. It is then shipped to the IWK for fitting.

As for Beattie, he has been with the hospital since 1989. He was familiar with an Occupational Therapist who suggested he may enjoy the work. Considering Beattie has remained in the program for more than 24 years, it certainly is a great fit.

“This is the perfect job as far as I’m concerned,” says Beattie. “I get to work with my hands and help people simultaneously. The work is challenging and rewarding.”

Beattie’s workshop looks much like any other, yet very unlike anything you expect to see in a hospital. There are various materials stored: pieces of repurposed wheelchairs, three industrial-sized sewing machines, neoprene for upholstering, two band saws, a table saw and a wealth of tools.

“When we first see someone we measure them for a seat using a fitting frame. From these measurements I construct a seat out of foam and plywood and I upholster it. I also adjust and repair wheelchairs as needed. I’d say one of my favourite parts of my job is going on the mobile clinics. Several times a year we go to Cape Breton and the Annapolis Valley. At times we go to schools here in HRM, or even homes.”

Gates explained that the first order of business when a child needs a wheelchair or seating device is to meet with the family and get to know their needs.

“This initial meeting is so important,” says Gates. “It’s when we first get to meet the child; establishing their needs, administering a postural assessment, taking measurements, then making recommendations.”

“Recently we had a child who needed a new power wheelchair. We had two styles and tried them both in the home to see which operated better in that specific environment. It needs to work in the child’s daily life.”

Having the right wheelchair and seating can make all the difference in the world when it comes to quality of life — kids need to participate with classmates, explore their environment and have a sense of independence.

“When a child receives their first wheelchair it is often a period of growth for both the parents and the child,” says Gates.

Taya’s mother Christine knows all about it. She has been taking Taya to Specialty Seating and working with the team for eight years. Taya was only three when she received her first wheelchair and met the group at Specialty Seating. She was outgrowing a stroller at this point, not only in a physical way but also as a growing child her needs were changing — she had a desire to be independent, to be able to explore the world on her own.

“Although she was small enough to still use the stroller, it no longer seemed to be the appropriate choice,”explained her mom. “The chair was so much better for her

Izaak#Provincial#05-02-2013#A01posture, and allowed her to be eye level with her peers. Her diaphragm was also better supported which made her breathing and therefore her speaking so much better.”

Taya was born with cerebral palsy. She enjoys her grade five class and likes to read — especially Harry Potter books. She also swims and uses a sit ski at Wentworth ski hill.

“I have both a manual and a power chair,” explained Taya. “I use the power chair at school. Some places are easier to use a wheelchair in than others though.”

Although Taya drives herself around by using head movements, the wheelchair must be steered remotely by a device similar to a joystick when it is being loaded into the family van. Apparently, according to a laughing Taya, dad is an expert at it, while mom, who is quick to agree, isn’t as deft.

Taya was eight when she got her first power chair. She started at six years old “training” with a joy stick, but it was a lot of work and a head array began to make more sense. The family visits Specialty Seating about once a year.

“To a certain extent, the chairs grow with her. Especially the manual chair, which she will have for about eight years,” explains Christine. “The power chair needs changes or replacing more frequently.”

As for cost, the family is fortunate that both Christine and her husband have good health care plans, however, they still certainly incur costs. The head array alone cost $10,000, which is as much as the chair. Then there are the costs of converting the family van with a manual ramp that has to be lifted and unfolded. A power system is even more expensive. This is the reality for families with a wheelchair. Taya gets to continue to visit the team at Specialty Seating until she is ready to transition to adult health care.

“I can’t say enough about the program and the staff,” says Christine. “When your child is first diagnosed, you’re in a daze. You don’t know where to go or what to do. They have helped us immensely, even in emergency situations.”

One such situation was during a weekend when Taya’s chair was accidentally run over, crushing one of the wheels. It meant facing a whole weekend propped up or in bed. Not a great thought for a young, energetic girl like Taya. Christine contacted Gates and Beattie who were more than willing to go into work on a Saturday to get the chair fixed. Says Taya, “Dave and Julia are extremely nice people and I would come to them all my life if I could.”

And there’s no higher praise than that.

To read the full issue of Izaak magazine visit www.iwkfoundation.org/izaak

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.


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Finding a natural latch

This article was written by Heather Laura Clarke for the inaugural issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre. The IWK works to achieve a world standard in breastfeeding support. 

Before Michelle Richardson gave birth to her son, Luke, she was committed to breastfeeding her baby. But once the little guy arrived, she realized it was not as easy as it looked. “I had taken the classes and read the books, and thought I would put him to my breast and be like ‘OK, breastfeed!’ but there’s a lot more to it,” says Richardson. “You have to learn how to do it.”

Michelle Richardson breastfeeds her baby boy, Luke, four months, at home in Halifx.

Michelle Richardson breastfeeds her baby boy, Luke, four months, at home in Halifx.

Despite the early challenges, she says the nurses at the IWK Health Centre were “so amazing and helpful” while she learned how to breastfeed Luke. In the end, both mother and baby got the hang of it — and are still going strong. “When things didn’t immediately go well, I never panicked about anything, because I knew they were right there to help me if I needed them,” says Richardson. “They were so fantastic.”

Richardson enjoyed the fact that Luke was able to stay in her room. Diane O’Reilly, manager within the Women’s and Newborn Health Program at the IWK Health Centre, says babies “room in” with their mothers 24 hours a day in order to help establish successful breastfeeding. O’Reilly co-chairs the Baby-Friendly Initiative committee along with Kelly Chisholm. The committee members are helping the hospital earn the World Health Organization’s “Baby-Friendly Hospital” designation. “The IWK believes breastfeeding is the safest way to feed babies and young children, and that it provides many nutritional, immunological, social, and psychological benefits,” says O’Reilly.

O’Reilly says breastfeeding provides short-term and long-term benefits for children, including a lower risk of developing asthma and inner-ear infections, as well as a reduced risk for diabetes and obesity. Breastfeeding mothers benefit as well — reducing their chances of developing ovarian cancer or breast cancer, and getting increased protection against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. BettyAnn Robinson, a clinical leader at the IWK Health Centre for the Family Newborn Adult Surgery Unit, says some new patients are surprised to find out there isn’t a nursery for the babies. The IWK has supported “rooming-in” for many years now. “Keeping a mother and baby together around-the-clock allows them to learn each other’s languages,” says Robinson. “The baby can communicate if he or she is hungry, and the mother can learn to recognize those cues.”

StatsIn order to receive their designation as a “Baby-Friendly Hospital,” the IWK needs to meet a complex set of standards, including ensuring the entire team supports its breastfeeding policy. Regular training and education sessions, along with newsletters, are a must to bring all staff on board. “You don’t have to be a health-care provider — we train our ward staff as well as our aid staff, because breastfeeding is an important part of the IWK experience for everyone who has contact with patients,” says O’Reilly. “We always want to ensure there is a positive energy about it, for all families.” While mothers delivering at the IWK Health Centre will be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding, O’Reilly says they are never pressured into it. The staff is careful to ensure consistent messaging from pregnancy through to final weaning, and providing information about the breastfeeding resources available in different communities. “Our relationship with every family is based on respect and trust, so we respect any decision they make,” says O’Reilly. “We just want to be sure that we’re giving them all of the information they need, so they’re making an informed decision.”

O’Reilly says the IWK also supports moms who choose not to breastfeed, because it implements “best maternal practices” such as skin-to-skin contact — which helps to regulate an infant’s temperature, heartbeat, and blood sugar, as well as calm them down. Out of all mothers who delivered at the IWK Health Centre in 2011, reports show that 85 per cent of them initiated breastfeeding. However, only about 56 per cent of Nova Scotia mothers practiced exclusive breastfeeding, and O’Reilly says that’s where they’re seeking to improve. “We want to know why some moms aren’t continuing the practice, and what barriers prevent it,” says O’Reilly. “We know breastfeeding is natural, but walking is natural, too — and we still have to learn it.”

O’Reilly says they are careful to ensure “consistency of messaging” from pregnancy through to final weaning, and providing information about the breastfeeding resources available in different communities. The IWK works with the Breastfeeding Community of Practice — a network of people who support breastfeeding women and their families in HRM. Their website includes a “Helping Tree,” which allows mothers to access local help and information. The Helping Tree recently helped O’Reilly when an expectant mother telephoned the IWK to schedule her prenatal classes. The woman explained she’d like to breastfeed, but didn’t think she would have any local support — and O’Reilly was able to quickly provide some answers. “It’s important to know that when you run into challenges, there are supports in place.”

The IWK Health Centre is currently reviewing their breastfeeding practices, and O’Reilly says in the coming months the IWK will sign a Breastfeeding Committee of Canada “Certificate of Participation.” “The journey to obtaining a Baby-Friendly Hospital designation is a long one, as there is a lot of work to accomplish in the pre-assessment stage. When we do get assessed, it’s not just about them showing us what we may be doing wrong — it’s about celebrating everything that we’re doing right,” says O’Reilly. “It’s not about being perfect. It’s about doing the best we can. And it will continue to be a very rewarding journey.”

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.