Starlight helps sick teens be themselves

Rethink's new campaign for the charity gives young patients their individuality back with designer hospital gowns.


Extended stays in the hospital can be miserable for anyone. For identity-obsessed teens, the standard hospital gown can be especially stifling to their sense of self.

Rethink copywriter Krista Raspor had this experience growing up and she wanted to do something about it. Her idea has led to the agency partnering with the Starlight Children’s Foundation and a number of fashion designers to add some personality to the drab staple of hospital life.

“What she struggled with, and what all teens struggle with, is you’re fighting to be an individual and individuality is everything when you’re a teenager,” says Rethink partner and CD Aaron Starkman, describing his colleague’s experience. “When you’re in the hospital, that gets stripped away from you because you have to conform in terms of what you have to wear.”

It’s Rethink’s first work with Starlight. They produced a two-and-a-half-minute YouTube video called Ward + Robes: “You’re unique. Why should your gown be any different,” the tagline says.

In the video, teens describe how the hospital experience strips away their identities, making them feel as though they’re “just a hospital patient.” Things brighten up when the new gowns, featuring designs from Izzy Camilleri and Rebecca Nixon, among others, are delivered.

The video was shot at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa in May. Now they’re hoping it will go viral, without any media buy or PR help, and bring in donations to get more gowns made and distributed. There’s also a webpage for the Ward + Robes campaign:

“We hope that it’s much bigger than a national thing. We hope it goes international,” Starkman says.