Healthy enough to be home, but too sick to live without 24/medical care, some Albertan children spend their early lives in hospitals, raised largely by a rotating staff of nurses and doctors.

Folks at the Universal Rehabilitation Service Agency (URSA)
imagined a better life for these children, and in 2018 started their Cub House, a home for medically fragile children.

“Our jobs are to eliminate barriers.  Having a home and place to grow, learn and play should not be a barrier,” says Pam McGladdery, CEO at URSA.  “These little ones have faced more obstacles in their 2 years of life than some of us have had in our entire life.  Our hopes and dreams are that life here at Cub House is the next best thing to home”

This autumn the Cub House moved to a HomeSpace building in Martindale, where the children receive around-the-clock care from a loving team of caregivers and medical staff. There, children enjoy a much less clinical childhood than they had in hospital.

“Everyone deserves safe, appropriate, affordable housing which is what these children have at the Cub House,” says Bernadette Majdell, CEO of HomeSpace. “We envision a brighter future for these children in a warm, stable, homey environment.”

Staff at URSA spotted another opportunity at their new Cub House, in the form of a large undeveloped outdoor space next to the lodge – ideal for a children’s playground. They hope to build one that all the children can enjoy.

“Many of the children that URSA serves have complex medical needs.  This includes support from staff for all areas of personal care. The majority of the children URSA supports utilize wheelchairs, walkers, and specialized medical equipment, and cannot play in community playgrounds like their peers.” says McGladdery. “These unique and complex needs require a well-considered, specialized, and accessible outdoor space and indoor sensory program.”

Now, URSA and HomeSpace hope to raise $200,000 to purchase and install an accessible playground and furnish the indoor space with sensory equipment, as well as seating and covered areas for the children and their families.

Having these family-friendly spaces helps to encourage and preserve those family connections while the children are too ill to stay at their family homes.

“URSA’s community spaces, especially the play and outdoor areas, allow parents to relax with their children,” says Kirsty Kundert, parent to a child in specialized care with URSA. “We can enjoy being together as a family in a cheerful and fun environment, far away from the everyday stresses of managing medical appointments and concerns. We are so grateful to be able to take a break from the daily responsibilities of caring for a special-needs child.

HomeSpace and URSA believe a playground will bring a spark of joy to the living space of children who have endured great health challenges, who deserve a cheerful and stimulating place to call home.

To donate visit: ursa-rehab.com