Evin Davis had spent nearly a week in the pediatric unit at Royal University Hospital by the time he picked up a paintbrush, ready to transform a blank mask into something out of his own imagination.

Recovering from having his appendix removed, the seven-year-old had been worried about missing Halloween in his hometown of Creighton. His skeleton costume was all ready to go back home before he got sick.

A boy paints a mask.

Evin Davis paints one of the masks donated by the Royal University Hospital Personnel Association to help kids like him celebrate Halloween in the Pediatrics unit.

“We’re hoping we can get back home by Friday,” said Scott, Evin’s dad, as he watched his son decorate the mask with some help from his mom, Cindy, and Francis Cashin, the Recreation Therapist for the unit. But if Evin’s not well enough to go home by then, at least he’ll get a taste of Halloween, even if he’s still in the hospital.

Described as a “tough little guy” by his father, Evin was the first child to paint his mask. The rest of the children will be diving into the glitter, stickers and paint on Friday, just before they do a little trick-or-treating in the mall on RUH’s main level.

The masks and all the supplies to decorate them were donated by the Royal University Hospital Personnel Association (RUHPA). RUHPA is a social association specifically for all RUH staff and affiliates. Members participate in social events, build camaraderie and support initiatives at RUH. Members each donate 75 cents per pay period and to support initiatives like this. Currently there are 700 members of the RUHPA.

Masks and other decorations.

A huge pile of masks and decorating accessories was donated to the pediatrics patients at RUH by the RUHPA, to help the children celebrate Halloween.

This organization has purchased paintable face masks and supplies for the Child and Adolescent Unit at the Dube Centre, as well as the pediatric units at RUH for the past three years.

“The recreation staff and volunteers assist the children in having a great Halloween experience even while in hospital,” said Marilyn Gibson of the RUHPA.

The pediatric emergency department will also get foam masks with sticky embellishments to add, coloring books and crayons on October 31.

“I think it’s amazing,” Cindy said of the donation as she helped her son with his mask. “Everything the hospital has been doing has been amazing since we’ve been here.”

The masks and supplies will be available in the playroom for kids to decorate on the morning of Halloween. They’ll be assisted by some staff members and volunteers in the room. For those kids unable to come down to the playroom, the craft supplies will be taken room to room, to ensure they are included, Cashin explained.

This donation by the RUHPA is one of many the pediatric unit receives, Cashin noted.  Books, arts and crafts supplies, board games, Lego pieces, crayons and colouring books, bubbles, playdough, stickers and little toys and gifts that the children can keep can be found in the playroom thanks to donations from generous people and organizations like the RUHPA.

“We’re well supplied by the people of Saskatchewan,” Cashin said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without donations like these.”

And they can always use more.

“We go through lots,” Cashin said. “You can’t believe the difference a Lego set can make with a child’s health. The more happy and engaged they are through play, the better they can cope with their health issues. Play can be a significant factor in their healing.”