Designers Empower Sick Kids

Nicola Blore

Posted on August 08 2017

Fashionable gowns give a sense of hope, empowerment and individuality to terminal ill teens

I came across the Ward+Robes initiative and I had to investigate further. I mean, designers’ making fashionable hospital gowns for sick teens - how wonderful is that! Having had a Mother with a terminal illness, this initiative really caught my attention. I love the collaborative effort, and let’s face it; it’s not easy being a teenager, let alone a teenager suffering with a severe illness.

fashionable hospital gowns for sick teens

Nonprofit organization Starlight Children's Foundation Canada collaborated with Rethink Canada and several local fashion designers to launch their Ward+Robes initiative. Their aim is to redesign hospital wear for sick children and teens, to help make them "feel more like themselves while undergoing treatment." About 100 designed gowns were given to children and teens at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) over a couple days.

fashionable hospital gowns for sick teens

Six Canadian Designers each designed a custom Ward+Robe including Izzy Camilleri who previously designed fashion for David Bowie, amongst others, before moving on to producing a clothing label designed exclusively for wheelchair users. Oh, bless you Izzy! Designs were inspired by streetwear, meditation mandalas, and a heap in between. The teenagers were able to choose the gown that best represented their personal sense of style. You can view some of the styles here.

fashionable hospital gowns for sick teens

Trevor Dicaire, the senior vice president of development at Starlight, told BuzzFeed News that they were "blown away" by the patients' reactions and that it was almost as if their "personalities transformed" once they had changed into their new stylish designer hospital gowns. Dicaire added "We felt this was a perfect program to provide them with a sense of hope, empowerment and individuality". He said, "Seeing the smiles, hearing the giggles, watching the excitement… I knew we had to bring this program to as many hospitalized teens in Canada as possible". Oh, I just love hearing about stuff like this! 

The Ward+Robes initiative is in talks with hundreds of Canadian hospitals - their goal is to have gowns for every one of them. Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada hopes to inspire more designers to partner with them and produce uplifting designs. They have made a downloadable pattern template available.

fashionable hospital gowns for sick teens

Come on Australia, we need to jump onto this! I am sure there are many teenagers, as well as children and adults that spend time in hospital, who would greatly benefit from it. To all of you talented designers out there, with the resources, time and budget, this would be a great initiative to see implemented in hospitals around the world! How amazing are people?! This initiative would have completely changed the lives of those teens, and I am sure their parents too. Well done to the Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada Ward+Robes initiative I hope that this will inspire other countries to jump on board.

To find out more about the Ward+Robes initiative visit 


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