2017 Strategy Awards: The Starlight Foundation’s new clothes

Hospitalized kids wore their personalities with custom gowns made by Canadian designers.


Silver: Cause

Starlight Children’s Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to helping children cope with serious illnesses and the psychological toll sickness and hospitalization can bring.

Kids hospitalized for long-term stays have a lot to cope with. For young teens, especially, their sense of identity is a challenge. Teens say the hospital experience makes them feel like they’re “just a patient.” Having to face the world in drab, anonymous hospital gowns makes many teens (whose identities are still developing) feel diminished.

Starlight and Rethink teamed up with Canadian designers to launch the Ward+Robes initiative – a line of one-of-a-kind hospital gowns packed with personality. The designers ranged from a tattoo artist to a high-end fashion couturier who once worked with David Bowie.

While maintaining the functionality of the gowns, the designers worked with lively, colourful fabrics and custom touches that transformed the garments.

Ranging from camouflage and punk-inspired looks to lace and hipster styles, the team took the gowns to hospitals and let kids choose whatever “outfit” they wanted. The minute they put the gowns on, they lit up. As one teen said, “It feels like I’m myself. It doesn’t feel like I’m in a hospital anymore.” The experience was filmed and shared globally through social media.

The Ward+Robes initiative received worldwide attention, with the video garnering more than 22 million views, resulting in a 780% increase in donations to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. It received coverage from several media outlets including CNN, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Teen Vogue. It also got the attention of medical professionals around the world, and the foundation is now expanding the program to its network of 130 hospitals worldwide.

Brand | Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada
Agency | Rethink
Strategist | Maxine Thomas