Being in the hospital sucks. You know what sucks even more than being in the hospital? Being a KID in the hospital.

With that in mind, Ward + Robes is making over hospital gowns in the hopes of helping hospitalised kids.

Every little bit of normalcy can help a hospitalised child in ways that most of us can’t even imagine.

Think back to your younger years. Was a drab uniform your idea of high style during your teen years? Probably not.

Instead, you may have explore your own individuality and sought out to express who you were through what you wore. Whether you were pairing acid-washed jeans with a Flashdance-inspired cutoff sweatshirt in the 80s or going grunge in the 90s, being a teenager likely meant using your clothes as a way to say, “Hey world, this is who I am – or, at least, this is who I am today!”

Image credit: Ward + Robes
Image credit: Ward + Robes

Now think about what it would have been like to wear a hospital gown as a teen. There’s no way to express yourself or show off your individuality in a hospital gown. Above that, the gown is a constant reminder that you’re sick. The Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada started Ward + Robes to combat this problem.

Image credit: Ward + Robes
Image credit: Ward + Robes

Ward + Robes is a partnership between the foundation and top designers, with the goal of creating completely unique hospital gowns for kids. “It sort of makes me feel like my identity has been stripped away from me,” says one teen in a video on the Ward + Robes website. Another sick child says, “I can’t be myself. I just feel like I’m someone else,” when talking about wearing the traditional hospital gown.

“You’re just your illness. Or, you’re just a hospital patient.” This statement by one teen in the Ward + Robes video sums it up. The hospital gown is a symbol of sickness. It takes the teen’s sense of self away and defines him by his illness.

Image credit: Ward + Robes
Image credit: Ward + Robes

And, that’s where this project comes in to play. One of the designers involved says, “I hope that when someone puts this gown on, they feel like they’re stepping into their power.” That’s exactly what it gave the teens – power. When she sees the gowns one teen says, “I saw empowerment in teenagers, in a place where they don’t have any.”

Being a teen is tough enough as it is. Add in a major illness (and the resulting hospital stay), and you have a situation that’s beyond challenging to handle. Why make it worse by taking the child’s sense of self-expression away? Through the Ward + Robes initiative teens are getting the chance to be themselves, even when they’re sick. They’re stepping up and out as individuals, and not patients.

How can you help make the Ward + Robes initiative a reality? Visit the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada’s website for more information on donating to the cause or (if you’re a designer) creating a gown!

Author

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

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