Santa, with a little help from Cisco and the latest video technology, checked in, at seven hospitals across the country, to virtually check his list twice with some very special children. Through out the week of December 2nd, 2013, Cisco’s Canadian Civic Council, a group of employee volunteers that direct charitable giving, ran its 3rd annual Connected Santa program which beamed the man himself, directly from the North Pole, to some very excited children through Cisco TelePresence and Jabber Video. Santa even made bedside visits, in isolations wards, ensuring no Christmas wishes were missed!
One of the special stops was Toronto Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation hospital, where Santa brightened the faces of 25 children, creating a magical experience, for patients, families and the staff, which will not soon be forgotten. Breanne Mathers, Child Life Specialist at Holland Bloorview, shared with us her thoughts on the Connected Santa experience. Here is what she had to say:
As a Certified Child Life Specialist with Holland Bloorview, I feel lucky to have the chance to really get to know the kids and their families, while they are here receiving rehabilitation treatment. I have been with Holland Bloorview for six years and I always enjoy getting to know the new kids that come through our doors, their energy is contagious.
For many of our inpatient kids it’s difficult for them to go see Santa at the mall for many reasons, infection control, mobility and stimulation are some of our main barriers. Malls can be very busy and over stimulating for our kids. This is why we are so grateful that the CISCO Connected Santa program comes to us all the way from the North Pole. This opportunity allows our clients a private, one to one session from Santa in a controlled and safe setting just down the hall from their hospital room and sometimes right at their bedside if they are not able to leave their room. Having the ipad ready to go allowed us to bring Santa to five of our clients’ bedside.
It is really cool to see this high tech equipment being used for a very special and out of the ordinary way, which provides hope and allows us to bring the magic and spirit of Christmas to every child.
This year was especially wonderful. We were all touched when Santa started to use sign language when he was interacting with one of our non-verbal clients. It was really cool to see this child sign back “I love you” to Santa. These are the kinds of things that really warm our hearts. Santa was truly wonderful, he sang Christmas carols to two of our sensory clients and they both showed signs of response physically to this happy reminder of the holidays. An added bonus was that upon leaving the session with Santa, Cisco generously provided each child with a gift card to allow them to buy any toys from their wish list that Santa was not able to bring.
On behalf of everyone at Holland Bloorview, our kids and their families, we want to send an extra special thank you to the CISCO team for making this happen for the second year in a row, and to Santa for being so wonderful with our amazing kids!