SickKids opens Marnie’s Studio: New family space that promotes healing through creative arts
By Bianca Jimeno
If laughter is the best medicine, consider music, art, and dance to be right behind it. On June 10, after much anticipation, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) hosted an open house to celebrate its newest renovated space, Marnie’s Studio.
Marnie’s Studio, like its neighbour across the hall – Marnie’s Lounge – was created in memory of Marnie Kimelman who passed away at 17-years-old in an attack in Tel Aviv. Formerly known as Bear Theatre, the bright new space offers a non-clinical, healing environment not just for patients, but for their families too.
Through music, art and dance programming available in Marnie’s Studio, patients and families will have the opportunity to escape and feel distracted from the stress and pain that can come with hospitalization.
“Play is a huge part of healing,” says Saghi Tootoonchinia, Child Life Specialist in the Centre for Innovation & Excellence in Child and Family-Centred Care at SickKids. “But it goes beyond that. Marnie’s Studio offers an exploratory, positive place away from the bedside where kids can be kids, a place of imagination and hope, which research shows leads to a quicker recovery.”
The studio’s versatility is seen the moment you walk in the door. The interactive space includes a separate multisensory room where patients can engage the senses in a relaxing and calming environment; an art bar for skill-building activities such as drawing, painting, and photography; a multimedia hub with a recording booth, where patients can record songs or create their own videos; and the Dancers for Cancer performance stage available for live shows. To ensure that patients who can’t leave their bedside are included in the fun, the studio is equipped with cameras that enable special events and programs to be broadcast directly to patient rooms through SickKids’ closed-circuit television programming.
Stephanie Clayton, 14, spoke at the event. She has been a SickKids patient since she was one hour old which, she says, makes her a “professional in the field”. Stephanie is a member of the SickKids Children’s Council, which helped shape the vision for Marnie’s Studio along with the Family-Centred Care Advisory Council.
“Having a place like Marnie’s Studio is important because it gives kids a chance to have a voice, be constructive, and express themselves through art,” says Stephanie. “My favourite part is the multisensory room. It lowers my stress and helps me deal with my pain.”
The open house also invited guests to check out the art bar where pencil crayons, glue sticks, paper leaves and trees were set on the tables for kids to create their own family trees.
There was also a live performance from Dancers for Cancer, a group who contributed to supporting the renovations. Their piece was in memory of SickKids patient, Danielle Mathia, who received music therapy while she was in the hospital Dancers for Cancer performed to an original song that Danielle composed with her music therapist, titled Just Breathe.
The event took place during SickKids’ third annual Child and Family-Centred Care Week. The week celebrated SickKids’ approach to patient care, which recognizes the child at the core of everything SickKids does and the family as central to the child’s health.
The creation and renovation of Marnie’s Studio was supported by the Reznick and Kimelman families, Dancers for Cancer, Simple Plan Foundation and many community supporters.