‘Smilezones’ bring a little joy to the hospital experience in Port Perry


Published May 4, 2023 at 3:39 pm

Smiles will come naturally for some patients at Lakeridge Health Port Perry, thanks to Smilezones and the generosity of a couple of long-time residents.

Visiting a hospital can be an uncertain time for patients and families. But two new Smilezones unveiled in the Emergency Department and New Life Centre at Port Perry Hospital – designed to create therapeutic and interactive spaces for children of all ages – will help to make this experience easier.

Smilezones provide children and their families with comforting areas to enjoy while spending time in hospital. They are custom designed and backed by the notion that “Every child deserves to smile” – the motto of the Smilezone Foundation.

At Lakeridge Health Port Perry, the New Life Centre is now home to vibrant murals and new whiteboards that showcase newborn photos from past years, with added space for the years to come. In the Emergency Department murals and a multilingual sign welcomes visitors as they enter. In addition, two new iPad stations were installed, equipped with interactive games for children and their families to use while waiting.

“We’re so thankful to Smilezone for coming into our hospital to brighten up not only our halls, but also our patients’ experiences,” said Hannah Jeronymo, Patient Care Manager, Maternal Child, Lakeridge Health. “We can’t wait to have our patients enjoy all the beautiful murals and add their own baby photos to the hallway’s lively colours.”

Gilbert Kee and Kathy Perna, who have called Port Perry home since 1996, donated to the Smilezone Foundation to make the project possible.

“We absolutely love our community, so it is with pleasure and great honour that we have worked with Smilezone to bring a new look to the New Life Centre and Emergency Department at Lakeridge Health’s Port Perry Hospital,” said the donors. “The team at Smilezone and the Port Perry Hospital Foundation both deserve huge praise for their imagination and design in bringing the new look to life.”

The Smilezone Foundation has transformed many hospital and medical spaces across Canada with its mission to “make tough days a little brighter” for kids receiving treatment in hospitals and health-care facilities, with 325 Smilezone spaces in health care facilities across the country.

Smilezones co-founder Scott Bachly said the organization was “truly thrilled” to be part of the project at the 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.”

Cynthia Davis, President and CEO of Lakeridge Health, called the spaces a “testament” to the generosity, dedication, and support of the community. “As a result, countless patients and families will enjoy an enhanced experience when seeking care at our hospital.”

The enhancements in Port Perry include:

  • Fresh Bright Paint
  • Welcome Mural
  • Bright Painted Decorative Murals featuring four seasons with local bird life, and
  • New Large White Boards to share the very many photos of newborns that have come through these doors, along with space to add future newborn pictures to the centre, for all to enjoy.

Smilezone Foundation is a registered charity based in Oakville founded by Bachly and former Stanley Cup champion Adam Graves in 2012 and committed to putting smiles on kids’ faces.