Child Wellbeing & Whānau Support

Making tough times more bearable

Whānau-centred care in a world-class setting supports the journey to better health for our sick and injured children and their families. Together, we are helping make tough times more bearable.

Child Wellbeing & Whānau Support Hero

With your help, we're giving children and their families the best Starship experience possible.

Visiting Starship can be a challenging experience both for the child and their whānau. It can also be disruptive. Extended hospital stays can have a significant impact on families who visit Starship from all over the country. That's why the Starship Foundation invests in programs to make children and whānau have the most positive Starship experience possible… an experience that is helping to positively influence lives long after families leave hospital.

The Neuromuscular Nurse Specialist Pilot Program has made a huge difference in the lives of many children and their families living with a long-term neuromuscular condition. Thanks to you, these families now have an immediate point of contact to help them with any health concerns they may have.

"I believe having appointed Sharron to her role was a game changer for us. Having Sharron as our contact person has really made our lives easier," says one grateful Mum.

143 children from all over the North Island treated in Starship's Neuromuscular Clinic with Nurse Specialist support since 2018

With help from supporters like you, we've also begun a pilot program for a Long-term Ventilation Care Coordinator. This position supports children on long-term ventilation care all over New Zealand, helping them live their 'best life' in the community while whānau manage their day-to-day medical needs.

15 NZ children supported on long-term ventilation at home

Supporters like you haven't just helped families and children live a full, active life out of hospital, either.

Within Starship, you've helped us fund an expansion of Starship's Play Specialist team, helping children navigate what could otherwise be a stressful and scary experience. With your help we've been able to provide a wide variety of hospital appropriate toys, play equipment, and comfort objects to help children who are going through difficult situations or procedures.

You've also helped us fund Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation for girls at risk of infertility due to cancer treatment, ensuring they'll have a good chance to have children of their own later in life.

Funded cryopreservation for 11 girls in 2020

Children and their whānau are at the heart of the Patient Focused Booking System being piloted at Starship, trialing a new process for the scheduling of outpatient clinic appointments. The goal is to improve the experience for the whānau, and to also reduce the rates of non-attendance at appointments.



Special support to help children like Ava

Ava and her Play Specialist using play to prepare.

11 year-old Starship star Ava and her Mum Alex have had frequent visits and stays in our national children's hospital receiving care and treatment since Ava's brain tumour diagnosis late in 2019. It's a journey no parent or child expects to go through.

MRI scans in Starship's Radiology department helped Ava's doctors with their diagnosis, and also to monitor her progress through treatment. However an MRI machine can be scary, noisy and intimidating for anyone and the use of general anaesthetic was the norm for children like Ava needing MRI at Starship until recently.

Now, thanks to Starship Foundation funding, Play Specialists are there to support children coming for tests and scans in radiology and it's had a phenomenal impact.

"One of the biggest parts of our role is preparing children and their families for what to expect and how to manage the different interventions that they'll have during their healthcare journey," says Nicola Woolaston, Team Lead of Hospital Play Services at Starship.

"A highlight for us in 2020 was looking back at what we've managed to achieve in radiology. Out of 165 children, 159 of them have actually managed their scan successfully without any general anaesthetica brilliant success for them and for us."

Your support truly is helping make the tough times more bearable for children like Ava and her family.

"I have to say they really helped me get through my treatment and experience in Starship. I just felt a lot more confident going in to the MRI and less scared."

Ava Stoneham

"Thank you so much for your on-going support of the Starship Foundation.
Our Play services have extended remarkably over the last 18 months because of your generosity and it's really making an impact for kids and families."

Nicola Woolaston, Team Lead Hospital Play Services Starship



Fertility options for cancer children and young people like Mollie

Dr Mark Winstanley together with Mollie Kroon, Auckland.

Mollie Kroon was a sporty teen from Auckland when she and her family found out she had Ewing's Sarcoma. The transition from being a normal teenager to one undergoing treatment for cancer at Starship was quick.

Together with her Mum she met Starship Oncologist Dr Mark Winstanley who explained they wanted to start chemotherapy as soon as possible. Their goal was to shrink the tumour in Mollie's pelvic bone before attempting to remove it surgically.

Cancer therapy can put children and young people at risk of infertility, but Starship's oncology team were able to talk to Mollie and her family about a procedure called Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation.

29 girls from around New Zealand have accessed Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation since 2016 including 11 in 2020 alone. It's a service that was previously only available to those with the personal resources to pay, but it's now offered to any child who would benefit thanks to your support.

Mollie explains what happened, "When I was diagnosed we talked to Mark about my fertility options and did the Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation. had surgery to get my port inserted and got the ovarian tissue out at the same time. I think it was a good idea and I'm happy we did it."

After seven months of chemotherapy Mollie's tumour had shrunk enough for Starship surgeons to operate. Since her treatment ended and her health has returned Mollie continues to be monitored by the Starship Oncology, and surgical teams.


"We wouldn't have been able to offer this without those of you that support the Foundation. So thank you."

Sarah Hunter, Research Manager, Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Service, Starship




"We get about 120 new children and young adults with cancer through our service each year. They can come from anywhere in the country. Cancer therapy can have negative impact on the ability to have babies and to offer those people hope to still be able to have children is a particular passion of mine."

Dr Mark Winstanley, Paediatric Oncologist & Clinical Director, Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Service, Starship



You can find out more about your impact at the links below or read the complete 2020 Starship Foundation Impact Report [PDF].


Previous Starship Foundation Impact Reports can be found here.