Therapeutic television at the IWK

Television Production instructor lends skills to Child Life Television

Therapeutic television at the IWK

For more than seven years, Stephen Melanson, NSCC Television Production instructor, has volunteered his time and skills to create and share Child Life Television at the IWK Health Centre.

“Stephen immediately understood what we wanted to accomplish with Child Life Television. He understands the idea of service to others. He drew on his remarkable knowledge and skills to help us make Child Life Television a reality. We’re very grateful for his help and proud to call him our colleague and friend.” ~ Cleve Sauer

Fast Fact

In addition to Stephen’s work with Child Life Television, the 1981 NSCC Radio & Television Broadcasting grad volunteers with the Bedford Players Community Theatre and Saint John Vianney Church. He also supports Special Olympics, the Sackville Minor Hockey Association and Chalice Canada.

For his work on Child Life Television, Stephen recently received an IWK S.T.A.R.S. Award (Special Time to Appreciate and Recognize Staff).

When Cleve Sauer — perhaps best known as Buddington the Therapeutic Clown — had an idea for a patient-centered television network at the IWK Health Centre, he knew just who to ask for help: Stephen Melanson, Television Production instructor in NSCC’s Radio & Television Journalism program.

“We wanted a way to distract kids from some of the potentially difficult parts of their healthcare experience and give them a creative outlet,” says Cleve, who is also the Child Life Television (CL-TV) Coordinator.  “It’s another tool that we can use to positively impact the health of the patients.”

For more than seven years, Stephen, Cleve and the Child Life team have worked to create and share Child Life Television — a television channel anchored in providing therapeutic and entertaining opportunities videotaped for its young viewers.

“In the beginning, I worked with Cleve to identify the equipment we would need to get this going,” says Stephen. “Then, we designed a new control room and I assisted with the installation and set-up of the equipment.”

It didn’t stop there.

His work on the project continued while he was on sabbatical from Ivany Campus during the 2017-2018 academic school year. Stephen volunteered to help set up the program’s new production theatre and helped with the weekly productions. He trained volunteers and Child Life staff on how to use the production equipment and create high-quality broadcasts. Stephen adds, “I’ve also been a director, camera operator, lighting coordinator and the sound and floor director. Whatever they need.”

Therapeutic benefits

For his work on Child Life Television, Stephen recently received an IWK S.T.A.R.S. Award (Special Time to Appreciate and Recognize Staff). While honoured with the recognition, Stephen — ever humble — was quick to step out of the spotlight and commend the work of the Child Life staff: “They are amazing, and so good at what they do. I’ve seen, first-hand, the therapeutic benefits kids get when they have an opportunity to participate in the show. The excitement and joy on the face of a child — who may be quite ill — is worth any effort put into a production.”

Stephen says there’s one moment that really stands out: “One day, at the end of a production, I watched as a young child leapt for joy, right off the stage. He’d used a wheelchair to get from his room to the theatre, but when he was finished his energy level was through the roof.”

It’s moments like this that Stephen says will impact his work as he returns to the classroom in September.  “I’ve always used humour in my classroom, and I’ve come to learn that laughter is also great medicine.

Fulltime volunteer

With two years left until retirement after 25 years in the classroom, Stephen is already looking forward to when he can, once again, increase his volunteer hours with Child Life Television and return to the production studio for the weekly broadcasts.

“I was fortunate to have wonderful parents who modelled the importance of giving back. This amazing hospital has done so much for my family ­— and so many others — it was an easy decision to volunteer. I’ve learned that I get so much from the experience; and, in doing so, I can honour the memory of my parents.”

29/06/18

“Stephen immediately understood what we wanted to accomplish with Child Life Television. He understands the idea of service to others. He drew on his remarkable knowledge and skills to help us make Child Life Television a reality. We’re very grateful for his help and proud to call him our colleague and friend.” ~ Cleve Sauer

Fast Fact

In addition to Stephen’s work with Child Life Television, the 1981 NSCC Radio & Television Broadcasting grad volunteers with the Bedford Players Community Theatre and Saint John Vianney Church. He also supports Special Olympics, the Sackville Minor Hockey Association and Chalice Canada.

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