MITT students, staff, bring the magic of story to children in hospital

Originally posted: December 08, 2020

Nothing brings a story to life for a child like reading it to them aloud. So what happens when a pandemic prevents you from doing this in person? The answer to that question lies in a unique collaboration between staff and students at MITT, and the Children’s Hospital.

Recently, Andrea Colvin, a member of MITT’s Professionals in Health Care (PiH) student group, who is currently completing her Rehabilitation Assistant certificate, along with staff from Student Services and External Relations, lent their unique storytelling styles to video recordings of 10 children’s Christmas books. Those recordings will air on CHTV (the hospital’s long-running in-house TV channel) as lead-ins between regularly programmed movies and shows to help bring some joy to the young people under their care. (You can also watch them here on our YouTube channel.)

“Growing up, my dad would read ’Twas the Night Before Christmas to my siblings and I every Christmas Eve. It was my favourite holiday tradition,” says Elena Anciro, Student Life Coordinator and volunteer book reader. “I wish I could have read in person at the Children’s Hospital, but I hope MITT’s recordings will deliver some of the holiday cheer I used to feel when my dad read to me.”

The idea for the book readings was hatched back in summer, when Student Services team members Grace Leduc and Delvinder Kaur found themselves trying to solve a puzzle: what volunteer opportunity for students in health care programs would let them give back to the community, while at the same time be safe and feasible in light of COVID-19 restrictions? As the creative wheels started to turn, the duo identified the Children’s Hospital as a potential partner and, knowing their students would likely be learning online, the idea for a virtual book reading seemed like a natural fit.   

“This initiative was in keeping with one of the goals the PiH group set last year: giving back to community,” says Leduc, a student advisor who focuses on learning support here at MITT, adding that the theme was modified for 2020-21 to focus specifically on giving back through reading. “It was also about providing the students with an opportunity to develop new experiences. We will be looking to do book readings through CHTV in February, for I Love to Read Month, as well as in March during the hospital’s annual Child Life Month celebrations.”

There were some initial hurdles to overcome according to Kaur, including recording with a camera that none of the participants had used before and figuring out how to compensate for the loss of facial expressions caused by wearing masks. Their solution? “We used our tones, body language, hand gestures, and side comments to make up for it,” she says.

The adaptations worked according to Leduc, who says their contact at the hospital told her the videos, "look great, are a nice length, very clear and easy to hear as well."

Thank you to the Children’s Hospital and to our wonderful readers: Elena Anciro, Andrea Colvin, Delvinder Kaur, Grace Leduc, and Janice Manson.

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