The Ronald McDonald House – A Home for Sick Kids and Families
By Julia Miao, a volunteer with the Edgemont Youth Press
“Nobody ever wants or expects to need [to stay at the Ronald McDonald House]. Yet 1 in 4 Canadians [have] stayed at a Ronald McDonald House or know someone who has.”
There are only 16 specialty children’s hospitals in Canada. Two out of three families live outside a community with easy access to a children’s hospital. When these children fall ill and require hospital treatment, their families are forced to uproot their lives and leave their community’s support at a time when they need it most. For over 40 years, the Ronald McDonald House has been a place of healing and hope for families across Canada. Here, they are provided with a place to stay, meals, and other essential services so families can focus on supporting the child’s healing.
We have one Ronald McDonald House in Calgary, located beside the Alberta’s Children’s Hospital. Before organizing a volunteer card-making campaign, I could have never truly understood its powerful mission, expressed through the purposeful design and support systems. It’s a cozy, homey, and beautiful space, resembling nothing of a hospital. Inside, there is a kitchen, craft centers, play spaces, and even a magic room. Groups of volunteers make home-cooked meals, staff members clean, and children play – a home away from home. Life seems…normal, in a sense, until you remember the kids there are going through medical treatment away from their own communities, constantly facing and overcoming challenges. It is the dedicated volunteers and amazing staff that constantly support the children and their families during these difficult times.
I was moved by the magic room and the story hidden within the building. When you enter, you are surrounded by colorful paintings and lifelike structures stretching from the ground up to the ceiling. It is a room full of enchanted stories: kings and queens, knights and wizards, castles and dragons. But more importantly, it is a room where sick kids can forget about their treatments for a while, and simply immerse themselves in magic. This room was the wish of a young boy staying at the Calgary home fulfilled by the Make-A-Wish Organization. It was originally open to kids when they reached a milestone in their treatment, a birthday, or when finishing their stay. Recently, it has been opened up for families to use anytime because of the unpredictability of a medical journey. The idea has spread to other homes in Alberta, and across the country. One child’s dream has brought joy to many who might need support in hard times.
The stories of determination and success from inside Ronald McDonald’s House inspire me to show the same courage as kids who are facing serious illnesses. It reminds me that I am privileged to live in a place where healthcare is available. It reminds me there will always be people who care – just like I do.