I found this website while browsing the net one day and as I got deeper into the site I wondered about how such an amazing tool came to be. AboutKidsHealth.Ca is a resource centre for parents, kids, teachers and anyone interested in a child’s health and development. The site has a broad range of resource tools including a step by step guide to every age until 18. The guide provides information on feeding, health care, common ailments, and child development amongst much more. Another one of my favourite features was the How The Body Works section which takes you inside your body with images and descriptions of how everything works.
I was lucky enough to head down to their head office and speak with Managing Editor Robin Marwick. The production they have going there was more than I expected. Learning that the site creates everything in house including illustrations done by medical illustrators.
It is such a good reference for parents, teachers and kids! How did the site start?
It launched officially almost 8 years now in the summer of 2004. That was right before I joined the team so I wasn’t around for the original impetus. We started with a generous grant from TD Securities that was our initial startup funding. It was decided that there wasn’t anything like this and that SickKids should be putting out information like this. There was a real market for a trusted child health information source and with SickKids being an expert in this area (it was only natural they be involved). There wasn’t really anything in Canada like this though there were a few sites in the US.
So was it started at SickKids?
That’s right. It started here with like 2 people. We originally launched with 3 resource centres: diabetes, brain tumors, and heart conditions. Part of what makes the site so great is that we have access to all these clinicians and researchers at the hospital who really let us use their expertise and pick their brains which really helps us get the site as good as it can be. We couldn’t create these in depth resources centres without that kind of help.
What are the other hospitals now a part of the team?
We have syndicated our Resource Centres and How The Body Works section to IWK hospital in Halifax. That was our first syndicated site. London Health Sciences Centre and BC Children’s hospital. We are just getting BC women’s hospital involved as well who will be working with a focus on our maternity related categories.
What types of people do you serve?
We do get traffic from 200 odd countries and especially since we launched our multilingual sites. Our main focus is parents for sure. Parents of typically developing children who need advice about things like fevers, how much milk your my child be drinking, and also for parents of children with complex health conditions like epilepsy and prematurity. It is a very stressful time for parents and having a good source of information that tells you what is going on and what is going to happen is very important.
Tell us about the food and gardening.
There are some specific diets for particular health issues. For example we have a minimum fat diet for chylothorax or a high fat diet for people with epilepsy. One of our staff is a dietician and we have a grant to develop a nutrition resource which will increase this section.
How does Ask Dr. Pat work?
Dr. Pat is with IWK and he writes our parenting column. He is fantastic in the way that if he doesn’t know something off hand he obviously has the resources and expertise of IWK to call on to find the answer. Anyone can ask him a question. There is a form on our site that you can fill out. He loves getting questions. I always find his information very practical and down to earth as well as entertaining.
What is next for the website?
Well I mentioned our nutrition resource centre that is under development. We are also working on expanding our offering of child development materials. More on milestones and typical development. Also we are adding more videos to our How To section on our Youtube channel. Things like How to stop a nosebleed, how to give a child liquid medication. We have 5 now and are adding 18 more. It is tough cause we try and tackle things that have a mechanical process that we can go through. A step by step process that we can demonstrate. One of our colleagues for the last year she has been working on a comprehensive to improve pregnancy and child birth outcomes in Nunavut. We are going there this week to deliver books and launch the program. For a long time most of the women have been flown to hospitals to give birth and they are away from their families and communities. There is a movement to bring birth back to Nunavut and we are happy to be a part of that. We have created a book to tell them health information through story telling which is the main way of learning in the region. June 21st is national aboriginal day which will also be the official launch of our program.
The biggest is that there are so many topics that we would like to write about. We have to pick and choose what we are going to do and what will have the biggest impact.