A hospital can be a lonely place to be, especially when you're a child.

But it doesn't have to be.

On Wednesday, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario launched Canada's first secure online community in Ottawa to keep kids in hospitals connected to each other.


Created by Kids' Health Links Foundation last year, Upopolis — which has gone bilingual for the first time to meet the needs of area patients — allows children to create a personal profile and use blogs, instant chat and child-friendly games.

The site also allows kids to stay up to date with their schoolwork through a homework site, look up kid-friendly health and wellness information, and make connections to other children with the same condition.

"We take in thousands of sick children and youth who have to stay in hospital for extended periods of time," said CHEO president and CEO Michel Bilodeau. "We focus our care on keeping our young patients connected to their family and friends for support."

"Upopolis brings kids the unique ability to have their world at the hospital bedside, connecting them to family, friends and other patients at any time, not just during visiting hours," said Joe Natale, president of TELUS Business Solutions, which powers the site.

"It uses the power of technology to make their hospital stay less isolating, keeping them plugged into the social networks that they depend on more than any other generation before them."

Launched at McMaster Children's Hospital in 2008, Upopolis is also used in hospitals in Vancouver and Halifax.

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