Stefano’s Stories: Champion shares story of hope

March 2024

It’s always special when kids share their health stories to inspire the community to #GiveBetterFutures for families who need HSC Children’s Hospital, and the 2024 Champion Child has been chosen to represent the resilience, hope, and strength of over 140,000 children who rely on our hospital annually. 

I want to introduce you to Janessa Colomb, a brilliant, thoughtful and talented individual with a meaningful story to share. She will join the family of past Champions who raise awareness for our Children’s Hospital locally and at a national and international level through the Children’s Miracle Network program.

Janessa lives in Pukatawagan, a First Nations community north of The Pas and 780 km from Winnipeg, but has spent a lot of her young life at HSC Children’s.

Starting at age five, Janessa began having reoccurring urinary tract infections. Her parents took her to The Pas Hospital and then she was referred to HSC Children’s where specialists determined Janessa’s kidneys weren’t functioning properly; one was small, and the other was diseased.

By age seven, Janessa had reached stage 4 kidney disease with 25 % kidney function that continued to decline. Recognizing the need to be closer to the care at Manitoba’s only children’s hospital, Janessa’s parents moved the family to Winnipeg.

After care and support from pediatric nephrology specialists and a successful kidney transplant at HSC Children’s Hospital, Janessa is now doing well. She’s a teenager enjoying being back in her community with family and friends, spending time outdoors doing things she loves like fishing and dancing. Janessa’s family will continue to travel to HSC Children’s in Winnipeg so specialists can keep an eye on her health.

Between 50 – 70% of kids treated at HSC Children’s are from Métis, First Nations and Inuit communities and many are far from their homes and cultural supports. That’s why innovative programming like the Indigenous Community Healing Space, generously funded by donors, is so important. This space will provide families with a culturally safe space to heal.

The Child Life program at HSC Children’s is also critical for providing comfort to kids like Janessa in hospital. Child Life team members are experts in childhood development and programming includes music therapy, the library program, Children’s Hospital Television (CHTV), special holiday celebrations and of course, play.

As a Child Life assistant, Manuela works with children staying in the hospital, especially ones that are there for long periods of time, are in isolation or have very little caregiver presence.

“I believe in healing and healing comes in many different ways,” says Manuela. “One of the ways would be through medicine, but there are different kinds of healing. I believe what we as Child Life bring is definitely a big part of healing as well.”

March is Child Life month and Music Therapy month, a time to celebrate the critical support health care teams provide for families in hospital. Child Life programming at HSC Children’s Hospital is 100% funded by generous donors.

Your support means the world to kids like Janessa, and to health care staff who are dedicated to providing the very best care possible.

Donate today. Your present is changing their future.

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