Saginaw Spirit, Smilezone Foundation USA Partner to open First “Smilezone” in United States
By: Cory Butzin, Digital Content Provider
Part of the Saginaw Spirit’s goal, according to their mission statement, is to make the Great Lakes Bay Region a better place to live, work and play.
The organization made good on the first part of that promise Tuesday, Dec. 20 when it’s charitable foundation partnered with Smilezone Foundation USA providing Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw with a $10,000 donation to build a Smilezone location in the Covenant Emergency Care Center.
National Hockey League Hall of Famer Adam Graves and businessman Scott Bachly started the Smartzone Foundation in Canada with the goal of assisting children and their families in hospitals by building Smilezones with different toys and activities to make kids smile.
“Our goal is to put smiles on children’s faces across the nation,” Bachly said. “Every kid deserves to smile.”
The Saginaw location ECC features 65 private rooms and cares for more than 90,000 patients a year as a Level II Trauma Center. It is the first hospital in the United States — and first of three at Covenant — to receive a Smilezone upgrade.
More Smilezones are coming in the Covenant Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation pediatric outpatient area and the Coveneant Pediatric Unit.
“It’s a true reprieve from battles (these kids) face,” Covenant Healthcare CEO Ed Bruff said.
“A smile makes a hard day just a little easier.”
Bachly and Graves have built 100 Smilezones in the province of Ontario, and their journey to providing the first in the United States at Covenant in Saginaw by meeting with the Ontario Hockey League Board of Governors to explain the goal of their foundation.
“They educated us on what they’re doing with the Smilezones throughout pediatric waiting areas and hospitals in Ontario,” said Saginaw Spirit President and Managing Partner Craig Goslin, who is a member of the OHL Board of Governors. “Quite simply, their presentation blew me away.”
The three met in Toronto and the idea of bringing a Smilezone to Saginaw was born.
It took creating a Smilezone Foundation in the United States many meetings and intense commitment, but the end goal of achieving a better place for children was never in doubt.
In the Saginaw location, iPads have been provided to entertain children waiting for care, as well as other activities for youngsters with a pair of Spirit jerseys hanging on the wall.
“I can honestly tell you that Smilezone is the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life,” Bachly said.
About Smilezone Foundation USA
Smilezone Foundation USA is a registered 501(c)3 charity committed to “putting smiles on children’s faces”. The charity established the overarching mission of assisting children, and their families, who are facing difficult times and health challenges. Smilezone’s mission is to create, build and transform areas (“Zones”) in hospitals, private treatment and development centres, and children’s clinics, in order to improve the lives of children facing illness, disabilities, and physical and emotional obstacles—ultimately putting a smile on their faces.