Kids'HealthLINK launched to support sick children from low-income households on line at home

San Francisco 23 May 2000An idea to provide seriously ill, homebound children from low-income families with a Web based support system, has evolved into an interactive, philanthropic Web site for Kids'HealthLINK, a San Francisco based non-profit organisation and one of the winners of the 1999 Ericsson Internet Community Awards (ERICA). The Kids'HealthLINK Web site was built using Web development services and technology assistance awarded by ERICA, a global social marketing ideas competition sponsored and developed by Ericsson.

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"The ERICA awards are granted to initiatives which use the Internet and technology to improve the delivery of services and information for non-profit organisations and the increasing number of individuals who depend upon them", commented Jennifer Hilborn, manager of social marketing at Ericsson. "We are very pleased to see our first ERICA winning application make a difference in someone's life by building an on line community and facilitating communication. This is exactly what this awards programme is all about."

Kids'HealthLINK was one of three winners selected from more than 1400 entries in last year's inaugural ERICA programme. The mission of the ERICA programme is to help philanthropic organisations use Internet technology effectively to realise their missions, expand social objectives, as well as share visionary ideas for community building via the Web. This year, Ericsson is awarding $500.000 USD in Web development services to non less than five non-profit organisations, granting $100.000 to each of them, with innovative and feasible ideas for Web based applications.

"After helping my mother battle cancer and witness her feelings of isolation and loneliness, I decided to start this non-profit organisation to provide families with peace of mind while homebound", stated Peter Gager, director of Kids'HealthLINK. "Now, through the addition of a Web site, we have the ability to create a network of friends for the children and a wealth of information for their parents which will ultimately help overcome obstacles."

By developing this Web site, Kids'HealthLINK expands both the support and resources available to children from low-income households who are living with severe illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. After being treated and released from the hospital, the children can register for an e-mail account through the Web site and communicate with friends, doctors, nurses, and teachers. There is also a gallery area where children can post pictures and artwork.

Kids'HealthLINK provides parents with a resource directory of hyperlinks to research and learn about the illnesses that affect their children. In addition, there is a calendar of local events, information on volunteer programmes, and links to join local support groups on line throughout the San Francisco and Bay area. Locally Kids'HealthLINK will provide eligible families with in-home Internet access and tutoring.

Last year, Ericsson partnered with several independent Web development firms to provide the winners with design and development services. AppNet, a provider of end-to-end e-business solutions, headquartered in Washington D.C., helped deliver the Kids'HealthLINK site by capturing their vision and creating a user-friendly working structure for even the most novice users to operate, despite several challenges.

"The users of the Kids'HealthLINK site are primarily from low-income families and typically do not have PCs at home", stated Ken Weber, director of non-profits for AppNet. "As a result, we chose a solution that could be used easily through WebTV, often a less expensive alternative to home computers."

With Kids'HealthLINK now on line, Gager plans to work with several local hospitals in the San Francisco area to further promote the site to children and their families. Additional support for this project is provided by the California Telehealth and Telemedicine Center.

Ericsson is a major telecommunications provider, offering solutions which combine telecom and datacom technologies with the freedom of mobility for the user. With more than 100.000 employees in 140 countries, Ericsson simplifies communications for its customers including network operators, service providers, enterprises, and consumers, the world over. The ERICA 2000 programme is open to any registered, non-profit organisation based anywhere in the world.


Leslie Versweyveld

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