Vibin’ and thrivin’ at Promchella: SickKids’ annual prom-inspired after-hours event
By: Louise Allyn Palma, Intern, Communications and Public Affairs
There was no need to fly out all the way to California to experience live music, palm trees and a summer breeze, when wanderlust was easily fulfilled at SickKids’ “Promchella”, the 2019 music festival-themed edition of the SickKids Prom, otherwise known as the 11th annual After Hours Exclusive Teen Event.
On July 5, Promchella provided a chance for patients and their guests to enjoy everything a school prom has to offer. As some patients may not be able to leave the hospital to enjoy events like prom in their communities, SickKids created an opportunity to relish in a sunshine state of mind for one night at this year’s event. With patients and their guests in their boho fanny packs and SickKids’ staff in flower crowns – Promchella came to life.
Around 25 V.I.P guests attended the event. “It made me really happy when I heard that SickKids was holding this event since I had to miss my own prom. I was in the hospital during my prom, so I’m really glad that this makes up for it,” said one teen prom-goer.
Before stepping out into the summer vibes of Promchella, guests were invited to have their hair and makeup done. In the hours leading up to the event, Marnie’s Studio was transformed into a beauty salon where professional makeup artists and hair stylists helped guests glam up for the night ahead. Fun jewelry, hair accessories and sunglasses were laid out for guests to complete their outfits within the Promchella theme.
With the dedication of SickKids’ Child Life staff and volunteers, guests were able to relish in SickKids’ desert festival transformation. Tents for a campfire after dark and fairy lights adorned on the ceiling to mimic stars at midnight, provided an opportunity for a memorable milestone event. Paired with Fruit kebabs; punch, cotton candy, pizza and popcorn added the perfect touch to an outdoor festival like Promchella. In addition, a photo booth was set up for guests to take their memories home. Finally, for guests who wanted to take a break from dancing, there were also dedicated games and crafts stations!
“There is a real need for this. Many patients continue to come back to this event every year and it’s a big highlight for them. It’s a coming-of-age milestone where they’re given the opportunity to feel comfortable with friends just like them and forget for a few moments that they’re in the hospital,” says Carolynn Darrell, Supervisor of Family Spaces and Special Events, SickKids.
During their time at SickKids, many patients have developed long-lasting relationships with their peers going through a similar journey. Events like the Prom give them the chance to celebrate and spend time with one another. For example, Arbani Bhatia was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just three years old and was in and out of the hospital for three years. Today, she is a SickKids patient ambassador and on the Children’s Council and helped to organize the event in the past and was excited to attend for the first time at Promchella.
“I try to give back to SickKids because they’ve done so much. This event is important to me because I see so many patients who are still here and my friends who are going through treatment. And my friends who are better now. This night lets us come together and cherish all our memories, whether it’s the sad or good memories. We can make sure that we all know we can get through this together and are constantly supporting one another,” Arbani says.
The After Hours Exclusive Teen Event is made possible through the Dream Delivery program at SickKids. Thanks to the generosity of the Turning Dreams Into Memories – Ann Storfer Endowment Fund, that the program provides unique opportunities for chronic and long-term patients at SickKids.