Visits to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and George Jeffey Children’s Centre Will Be A Bit Brighter For Kids

Cutting the ribbon to officially open the new Smilezones at George Jeffrey Children's Centre and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay are (left to right): Marc Staal, representing the Staal Family Foundation; Scott Bachly, Co-Founder and Chair, Smilezone Foundation; Lucy Goldberg, Parent Ambassador from George Jeffrey Children's Centre; Andy Hay, Board President, George Jeffrey Children's Centre; Crystal Edwards, Director, Women and Children's Program, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre; Kyle Shaen, Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and Jennifer Churchill, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Association of Children's Rehabilitation Services.

Young patients at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) and George Jeffrey Children’s Centre are now benefiting from the exciting Smilezone transformations revealed at both organizations in a special unveiling ceremony held today. Thanks to the Smilezone Foundation and the Staal Family Foundation, ten rooms at the hospital and children’s centre have received a bright, child-friendly makeover. The Smilezone team refurbished these ten rooms with fresh paint, bright murals, entertainment units, therapeutic equipment, and more – in hopes of improving the experiences of children while they receive medical treatment and therapy.

Adam Graves, two-time Stanley Cup champion and co-founder of Smilezone Foundation, says their organization is honoured to be part of the TBRHSC and George Jeffrey Children’s Centre. “We are thrilled with these new Smilezone spaces, and we hope they will help put smiles on kids’ faces no matter what circumstances they face”, says Graves. “As our first Smilezone transformations in the Thunder Bay community, we’ve been very fortunate to have the Staal family as an incredible partner in this journey.” The Staals announced Smilezone Foundation as a charitable partner at last year’s Staal Foundation Open, contributing $80,000 to make these transformations at the hospital and children’s centre possible.

With the installation of three Smilezones, TBRHSC’S Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit (CAMHU) has been brought to life with beautiful murals depicting Thunder Bay’s natural scenery and uplifting messages of hope. The classroom, where youth spend their time doing schoolwork, has been transformed into a lively space for learning with features such as iPads, custom seating, a large whiteboard, and expanded storage. Additionally, new video games, a television, and bookcases in the lounge give young patients a chance to relax and socialize during their time in the hospital. “The transformation of our space starts right at the entrance to the Unit, where you immediately feel welcome,” says Crystal Edwards, Director, Women and Children’s Program, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. “We’ve had so many positive comments about the murals on the wall and the youth love the activity stations. We’re very grateful to Smilezone and the Staal Family Foundation for making this space a warm and comfortable one where we can serve our patients.”
Seven Smilezones were also installed throughout George Jeffrey Children’s Centre, including the main entrance, waiting rooms, clinical treatment rooms, and teen activity room. These functional and fun spaces will help children and youth with disabilities reach their full potential, with features such as accessible iPad stations, a projector system to support clinical assessment, fun sensory tables and bean bag chairs, custom seating and storage, and more. “Making the Smilezone spaces more child friendly has had a positive effect on the children right from the start of treatment. Children love to come to the brightly decorated Centre and engage more readily with their therapists,” says Tom Walters, CEO at George Jeffrey Children’s Centre.

The Centre’s main waiting room also features a backyard hockey rink theme, with exciting murals and autographed jerseys from the Staal brothers hoping to inspire kids during their therapy. “We are proud of our partnership with the Smilezone Foundation and could not imagine a better pairing for the Staal Family Foundation,” says Eric Staal, spokesperson for the Staal Family Foundation, “By working as a team, we have been able to transform these medical and rehabilitation facilities at both Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and George Jeffrey Children’s Centre into more welcoming and fun spaces. Our entire family continues to be inspired by these kids who find the courage to smile and laugh through the most difficult challenges. They are our heroes and we are happy to be able to support them in our own way.”

The Staal family attended this morning’s unveiling, greeting families and helping put smiles on the faces of children with words of encouragement and autographed hockey cards.

About Smilezone Foundation:

Smilezone Foundation is a registered charity committed to putting smiles on kids’ faces. Founded in 2012, the Foundation’s mission is to transform spaces in hospitals and health care centres, in order to improve the lives of children facing illnesses, disabilities, and physical or emotional obstacles. Smilezones provide comforting and uplifting spaces for children and their families they receive medical treatment, helping to make their days a little brighter. As of 2018, the Foundation has transformed over 170 Smilezones in more than 30 communities across Ontario. Learn more about our upcoming Smilezone transformations at

About Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre:

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has a mission to deliver a quality patient experience in an academic health care environment that is responsive to the needs of the population of Northwestern Ontario. We are a recognized leader in Patient and Family Centred Care. Our world-class acute care facility with 375 beds serves the people of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. For more information, please visit

About George Jeffrey Children’s Centre:

George Jeffrey Children’s Centre (GJCC) is a paediatric outpatient health facility located in Thunder Bay, ON. We have been meeting the communication, developmental, and physical needs of children for over 60 years; providing services to infants, children, and adolescents in Northwestern Ontario. For more information, visit our website at

About the Staal Family Foundation:

The Staal Family Foundation promotes teamwork for children with cancer. By working together with community partners where we live and work, we aim to make life better for children and families during difficult times. We work as a family team to raise and provide funds to support children so that they may enjoy enriched lives. Learn more about our vision and join our team at or follow our latest community projects on social media.

For more information, please contact:

Jackie Hames
Operations Coordinator
Smilezone Foundation
(905) 951-2978 ext. 311