Growing Up with Heart Disease: Celebrating Life is a collaborative conference by and for families and healthcare professionals. It is an opportunity to learn from the experts: physicians, nurses, psychologists, researchers, parents, and heart children, youth, and adults.

To register for the conference, visit our registration site.

See the Conference At-A-Glance Schedule.

Conference highlights include:

  • Families and healthcare professionals sharing and learning from each other’s experiences of caring for children and youth with congenital, acquired, and electrical heart disease.
  • Special programs for youth (ages 13 to 19) and children (ages 6 months to 12 years)
  • Plenary speakers, concurrent sessions, and workshops on:
    • Current research and innovations in pediatric cardiac surgery.
    • Neurodevelopmental outcomes for children with CHD.
    • Research on how mindfulness and hypnosis build coping and comfort.
    • Strategies for supporting children with heart disease to help build resilience.
    • A panel discussion on heart health and physical activity.
    • A parent panel on dealing with discharge from the hospital to home.
    • A special presentation by youth on growing up with heart disease from the Hearts of Gold Youth Program.

Healthcare professionals, parents, youth, and children of all ages are welcome.

This special conference will be dedicated to Jan Rooks, a cardiac nurse clinician and former conference chair. We will be celebrating her life and the many lives she touched at BC Children’s Hospital.

Children’s Program

The Children’s Program for Growing Up with Heart Disease: Celebrating Life will be available for infants (6 months or older)* and children up to age 12. The program welcomes children with heart disease and their siblings. Qualified early childhood educators will care for and have a variety of fun age-appropriate art and activities for the kids. You will be able to relax and enjoy the conference while your kids play and have lots of fun!

The $50 charge per child for 2 days covers conference hours on Saturday and Sunday.

*Infants in arms are welcome during the conference. As a courtesy to other conference participants, we ask that parents give restless babies immediate attention.

To register your child in the Children’s Program:

  1. Please fill out the Children’s Program Form after you have already registered yourself for the conference and paid for the Children’s Program on our registration site.
  2. After you have registered you child, click on the link for the Children’s Program Form 2015.
  3. Print and fill out this form, scan it, and then email it to The information from this form will help us prepare for your child’s participation, ensure safety, and help us get to know your child’s character and preferences.
  4. CHN will confirm your child’s registration in the Children’s Program after you’ve registered for the conference and emailed the Children’s Program registration form.
  5. Important information for parents of children registered in the Children’s Program. Children’s Program information

Note: The Children’s Program is located at the GF Strong Building, on 28th Avenue, across from the Child and Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital.

Youth Program at the Conference

The conference has a stream that is designed just for teens. The Hearts of Gold Youth Program welcomes all youth with heart disease and their siblings aged 13-19 years. On Saturday the conference offers sessions tailored to interests of youth and provides a forum for expressing their ideas related to living with heart disease. Youth will enjoy a range of activities at the conference and have a social event in the evening. The registration fee is $35 for all day Saturday, including a Saturday evening event.

Please note that the Youth Program is only on Saturday, April 11. Sessions run all day with a fun Saturday night event in the evening. On Sunday morning, there is also a tour of the Operating Room for youth who sign up for this tour at the conference. While there isn’t a special youth stream on Sunday, all youth are welcome to attend the conference on Sunday, April 12. They can either attend any sessions that interest them or just hang out with their peers and new friends. There are coffee shops in the area that they can easily walk to. Also, the closing speaker on Sunday afternoon is a youth, and they may be interested in hearing her speak.

About the Keynotes

Saturday Keynote: Dr. Leora Kuttner Mindfulness and Hypnosis to Build Coping and Comfort

Dr. Leora Kuttner is a clinical psychologist internationally recognized for her work in pediatric pain management and she is a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics, UBC at BC Children’s Hospital. Leora pioneered work in pain relief, implemented pain management programs for children and parents, and has taught pediatric professionals in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. She wrote A Child in Pain: What Health Professionals Can Do to Help and directed five documentaries including the acclaimed No Fears, No Tears – 13 Years Later and Making Every Moment Count with the National Film Board. In 1998 Dr. Kuttner won the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Health and Wellness in Vancouver for her work in pediatric pain management. In 2007 she won The American Pain Society’s Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children’s Pain.

Sunday Keynote: Gwen Rempel “There is Much More to a Child than Their Heart:” Research Results from Parents and Future Directions for Us All

Gwen Rempel is an associate professor, Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University and a Circle of Security registered parent educator. She lives in rural Alberta, or as her urban friends and colleagues call it, “the middle of nowhere,” Through her academic appointment at Athabasca University, Canada’s online university, she teaches and conducts research. Her favourite recent research involved doing play and activity-based interviews of children with CHD, and their siblings, in their homes throughout Alberta. As part of a randomized control trial, she has been conducting psycho-education sessions with teens who live with CHD. This research is providing needed evidence for increased transition supports and services. Gwen also spent a summer attending the Adult Congenital Heart Clinic in Edmonton, recruiting young adults for an international study about quality of life outcomes and was thrilled to connect with a few adults she had cared for at BCCH when they were babies.

Registration and Fees

To register, visit our registration site.

The conference has been greatly subsidized so all families may have the opportunity to attend. The fees for the entire conference (2 days) are:

Adult: $75 + GST

Healthcare professional: $150 + GST

Youth: $35 + GST

Student: $75 + GST

Child: $50 + GST

Fees include:

  • Attendance to all sessions
  • Coffee and lunches on both Saturday and Sunday
  • Wine and Cheese reception on Saturday

Registered participants will receive a conference package, including a detailed conference proceedings booklet and a name tag, that they can pick up from the Registration and Information desk.

If cost is an obstacle to your attendance, please note that a very limited number of subsidies are available. Please contact Leslie  for more information.

The desk is in the foyer of the Children’s and Women’s Education Research Centre, on the BC Children’s Hospital site. For more information, email us at or call us at 1.877.833.1773 or 604.521.3037.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations will be accepted before March 21, 2015. Registration fees, less a $25 administration charge, will be refunded after the conference. Cancellations received after March 21, 2015, will not be refunded; however, substitute registrations are welcome.

Conference Location & Accommodations

The conference will be held at the Child & Family Research Institute next to the BC Children’s Hospital (on the same property). Minutes from beautiful downtown Vancouver and 20 minutes from Vancouver International Airport, the conference is within easy reach to accommodation, shopping, and spectacular beaches. There are many attractions to take in during your time in the city including: Stanley Park, Gastown, Science World, Grouse Mountain, and Capilano Suspension Bridge. For more local activities and events visit

Parking at BC Children’s Hospital

Please click on the link below for a map of BC Children’s Hospital.

Map of BCCH

The Conference Organizing Committee has arranged special conference rates at the following hotels.

Park Inn & Suites by Radisson

898 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1J8 604-872-8661

Group reference: Growing Up with Heart Disease Conference Group Block

Group rate: Standard Room per night, $105

Room rate available Friday, April 10, to Sunday, April 12. Group rates only available if you book by Tuesday March 24, 2015.

Sandman Signature Hotel & Resort Vancouver Airport

10251 St Edwards Drive | Richmond BC | V6X 2M9 604-278-9611, 1-800-726-3626

Group reference: #510310 Children’s Heart Network

Group rates:

  • Signature Executive Two Queens per night, $166
  • Signature Deluxe King per night, $134

Room rates available Friday, April 10, to Sunday, April 12. Group rates only available until Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Conference Sponsors

The Children’s Heart Network would like to thank our conference sponsors for helping to make this important event possible:

Special thanks to: