‘A way to be herself again’: Superhero visits brighten days for pediatric patients

'A way to be herself again': Superhero visits brighten days for pediatric patients
Photo: Island Health
Volunteers dressed as superheroes visit Victoria General Hospital.

At Victoria General Hospital (VGH), superheroes walk the halls.

A partnership between Island Health and the Superheroes of Victoria Volunteer Society (SOVVS) brings popular comic book and movie characters to life as volunteers sporting armour, capes, and shields brighten young patients’ days.

“The superheroes managed to perk her up in a way I haven’t seen in over a week, maybe even two,” recalls Kim McCoy Coleman, whose daughter, a patient at VGH, got a special visit from the volunteers.

“It’s as if, amidst the challenges of being in the hospital, she’s found a way to be herself again,” added Coleman in a news release.

The joint venture between Island Health and SOVVS started in January 2024, but the latter has been operating for more than a decade. The society was founded in 2009, and its founder, Mark Ashfield, says his team is always ready for action.

“We’re volunteers first,” he said. “We’re here to help. Put us to work. If you need us, we are just one call away.”

The power to spread positivity

The superheroes hope to visit VHG at least once a month and surprise patients, particularly those in the pediatric department, according to Island Health. A photo from a recent drop in shows Batman and Superman, among other well-known characters.

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It’s something that makes hospital staff smile, too.

“When you talk about your day, you get to say, ‘I saw Captain America today,'” said Island Health engagement manager Jennifer Doyle, who notes that SOVVS volunteers are screened and trained before their visits.

“We ensure they are thoroughly equipped to contribute in a meaningful way within a health-care environment,” she added.

Soaring to new heights

The volunteers themselves are thrilled to be involved.

“It means more than I think any of us can really say to be able to partner with organizations like Island Health doing this work,” said Greg Foster, SOVVS volunteer director. “The hospital staff are the real heroes. We just put on costumes.”

Organizers hope to eventually expand the visits to facilities across Island Health, with Doyle adding, “Starting at VGH was our first step.”

It’s a vision those positively impacted by the ongoing feat can get behind.

“It’s about more than just the excitement. It’s also a lesson in bravery and courage…” added Mercedes Elizabeth Howard, another mom.

“Showing our children that they can face their challenges head-on, just like their heroes.”

READ ALSO: Santa visits Island hospitals by chopper, delivers toys to pediatric patients

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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