Country music legend Garth Brooks is in Saskatchewan for a one-day, two-city tour to raise money for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan (CHF).
Brooks spoke with media before his first visit in Saskatoon at a reception at Kreos Aviation.
Adorned with white curtains, wooden barrels and candles, the hanger was transformed into a country dreamscape as country music fans gathered to meet Brooks.
Brooks will head down to Regina for a dinner and program at the Conexus Arts Centre Wednesday evening. His appearances in his role as the co-founder of Teammates for Kids Foundation are free of charge.
With 200 tickets at each event costing $5,000 each, CHF expected to raise $2 million which will fully fund a state-of-the-art therapeutic playroom for the hospital.
“In a normal hospital, they’ll roll (the children) out on a gurney, stick them in a hall waiting for surgery. Here, they roll down, there’s TVs in the ceiling. Their anesthesia masks, which used to scare the children; now they play with them before they are ever in there,” Brooks told reporters. “That’s what the zones all about is getting the family in here. It’s also about turning a hospital from grey walls in colour.”
The play area will include activities like music and art therapy. The goal is to provide a space for children to heal faster psychologically, boost their hopes, use their imagination and feel normal in a hospital setting.
Brooks and Teammates for Kids have helped fund 11 other Child Life Zones in major cities across the United States, but Saskatchewan will be the first in Canada.
“Needy children know no flag, so that’s why I’m very proud that we are finally starting to expand out,” Brooks said.
Province awards construction contract
Now that the hospital’s building contract has been awarded to Graham Construction, construction on the main building will start next month.
Graham expects to take 10 months longer than the province previously planned, meaning the hospital won’t open until late 2019.
“It wasn’t what we were wanting to hear,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said, adding all the bidders said it would take longer to complete the hospital than the province planned on.
On Tuesday, CHF said the province asked them to raise another $25 million because the price of the new hospital has gone up.
“For the foundation to be asked to enhance and help a little bit more, we believe that’s our responsibility,” CHF president Brynn Boback-Lane said. “We said from day one we would be here until the end and we’re going to commit to that.”
Boback-Lane did not give specific examples of how CHF plans to raise the rest of the money.