Welcome to the Circle of Hearts Family Support Network

Finding out your child has congenital or acquired heart disease is extremely stressful. A new diagnosis brings many questions and feelings of uncertainty. You are not alone. The Circle of Hearts Family Support Network is a non-profit children's charity made up of parents and caregivers who have children with congenital or acquired heart defects. The Circle of Hearts represents all pediatric heart patients and families of the Variety Children's Heart Centre, who span over Manitoba, Nunavut, parts of NW Ontario and Eastern Saskatchewan.

We believe that it is of great benefit to communicate with families who have gone through similar situations. It can help prepare your family for some of the situations and feelings all of you experience. We aim to provide emotional and educational support to those who are in need, as well as a means of networking among families whose children are affected by heart disease.

Along with providing such support to our families, the Circle of Hearts also provides fun family activities throughout the year to show our heart children that there is more to the Variety Children's Heart Centre than being a cardiac patient.

What is a congenital heart defect?

A congenital heart defect (CHD) is an anomaly of the heart that is present at birth, involving one or more portions of the heart to develop abnormally. There are many different types of congenital heart defects, and they range from simple defects such as a tiny hole that will never require treatment, to complex defects with severe, life-threatening symptoms that affect how blood and nutrients are pumped throughout the body. Some babies may be diagnosed before or at birth; some not until days, weeks, months, or even years later. Undiagnosed CHDs and childhood onset heart disease cause many cases of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.

Congenital heart defects are the world's most common type of birth defect; about one in every 100 babies are affected, representing 1% of births (Health Canada, 2002). In Canada, there are almost 100,000 adults who, as children, had surgery to correct congenital heart defects (Marelli et al, 2006). Over the past few decades, diagnosis and treatment of heart defects has improved significantly. With modern treatment, more than 90% of children survive well into adulthood.

Upcoming Events

Circle of Hearts Family Camp 2015
July 17 - 19, 2015 at Variety's Camp Brereton

The Circle of Hearts Family Support Network is pleased to offer its 12th annual Family Heart Camp, open to all VCHC families!

When: Friday, July 17 to Sunday, July 19
Where: Variety Camp at Lake Brereton, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park
Cost: Free for Heart Child and siblings 5 years and under; $50 for other persons

RSVP: To request registration package, email circleofhearts@hotmail.com or contact Joni Wilson at 204-688-0418.

Registration forms must be returned NO LATER than June 30th!

Family Camp includes...

  • 7 newly-renovated shared group cabins (69 spaces total)
  • All meals & snacks provided
  • Camp is wheelchair-accessible & vision-impaired friendly
  • Common washrooms & showers
  • Large common dining hall & family room (Main Lodge)
  • Canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, & lifejackets available
  • Private beach area
  • Fishing area
  • All-ages crafts & activities offered
  • Basic First Aid accessible

Heart Heroes Youth Camp 2015
July 20 - 24, 2015 at Variety's Camp Brereton

The Circle of Hearts Family Support Network is pleased to offer a five day Youth Camp! Open to all 10-18 year-old Variety Heart Centre patients.

When: Monday, July 20 to Friday, July 24
Where: Variety Camp at Lake Brereton, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park
Cost: Free for Heart Hero; $50 for one friend or sibling accompanying them

RSVP: To request registration package, please email Cheryl Janz at cheryl@envisioncl.com or leave a message at 204-231-0797.

Registration forms must be returned NO LATER than June 30th! No refunds nor registrations after this date will be accepted.

Newly-renovated cabins! Nancy, our activities coordinator, will have plenty of new games and activities to keep you well-occupied, as well as old favorites of course! Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, sports court games...
Nurse, lifeguards and camp counselors provided as well as food and transportation.

Circle of Hearts Support Meeting
Second Thursdays of every month

• Want to meet other heart parents?
• Son or daughter about to have heart surgery?
• Having a tough time coping with a diagnosis?
• Would you like to help other heart families?

If so, come join us for our next support meeting at:

Royal LePage Learning Center (north of main building)
1877 Henderson Hwy
Second Thursdays of every month

NOTICE: There will not be any scheduled meetings on July 9 or August 13 due to summer holidays.
If you are looking for support, we are available to contact at circleofhearts@hotmail.com and will gladly arrange to meet with you.

Past Events

Circle of Hearts Annual General Meeting
Thursday, June 11 at 7PM

Visit Us...

The Circle of Hearts Family Support Network Board members invite you to attend this year’s annual general meeting and learn about how we are putting your donations to work by supporting heart families in need.

Support Us...

Come find out how you can help us by sponsoring or volunteering for an event such as: the Family Camp and Youth Camp; the Summer Picnic; CPR/AED classes; the Christmas Party; the Heart Heroes Youth Program; the Transitioning to Adult Cardiology Workshop.

Volunteer on our Board...

There are two positions open: Treasurer (two year term) and Secretary (two year term).

Proposed Agenda
  1. President’s report
  2. Financial report
  3. Proposed budget
  4. Nomination and appointment of the Treasurer and of the Secretary position
  5. Report of the 2014 events

When: Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 7PM
Where: Royal LePage Learning Center, 1877 Henderson Hwy (north of main building)

Light refreshment and snacks will be provided.

Circle of Hearts Bud Spud and Steak Fundraiser
Saturday, February 7th, 2015

The Circle of Hearts Family Support Network hosted a Bud, Spud & Steak Fundraiser at Cowboys on Saturday, February 7, 2014 which raised funds for our yearly programming. We held it in conjunction with Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week, showing our guests what exactly we are all about: supporting our heart kids and their families! You can check out some pictures in the Gallery.

We enjoyed a steak or chicken dinner and a speech from heart hero Brittany Fox; she had quite the inspiring story. The fundraiser was a great success thanks to the silent auction contributors and ticket sales, but especially because of all the hard work the Board of Directors put into the event. You are awesome!

Thank you all for your support!

Annette Massey

Circle of Hearts Annual Christmas Party
Sunday, December 7th, 2014

On December 7, 2014, Circle of Hearts Family Support Network welcomed 57 heart families at our Pancake Breakfast with Santa at the Clarion hotel. The Clarion did a wonderful job hosting us!

Al Simmons was there to entertain the young and old and was hilarious as usual!

Thank you Santa for coming down during this busy season to give gifts to the kids!

Thank you Upper Crust Bakery for donating gingerbread cookies! The families had fun decorating them!

We were honored to have Heartly, Variety, the Children's Charity's new mascot make his debut appearance at our event. He's absolutely handsome!

Thank you to those who donated to the Christmas hamper. We collected $400 to give to a family who was struggling during this holiday season as their two year old daughter spent a few months in hospital waiting for a heart transplant. They are very grateful!

A great big thank you goes to the Burns Family Foundation for funding the Christmas party! Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Lastly, a special thank you goes to the Circle of Hearts Board who made this event possible with all their hard work!

First Aid / CPR Training
Sunday November 9, 2014

Circle of Hearts Family Support Network offered a CPR/AED course at a reduced rate. This course taught participants how to administer CPR to infants, children and adults, along with how to use an AED. Thanks to all who attended this year.

Disco Beat sets the tempo for CPR Month this November
New Guidelines make it easier to save a Life

Ottawa – The Heart and Stroke Foundation is shining the spotlight on new emergency care guidelines designed to simplify performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) during CPR Month this November.

The new guidelines stress early recognition, urging people to call 9-1-1 or their local emergency number if they ever find someone collapsed and unresponsive, and not to delay by ’looking, listening and feeling’ for breathing or pulse. They also recommend that instead of trying to remember how many compressions and how many breaths, bystanders doing CPR are urged simply to “push fast and push hard.”

“Many people hold back from doing CPR because they are afraid they may do it wrong or that they may hurt the person,” says Dr. Andrew Travers. “We want to make it clear that technique is less important than doing chest compressions quickly and firmly.”

“Think of the ‘70s Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive and that will give you an idea of how fast compressions should be done.”
“We know Canadians want to help, especially given the fact that four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home or in public places,” says Linda Piazza, director of health policy and research with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. “These changes make CPR easier to learn, easier to do and we believe people will be more likely to step in and respond to a cardiac emergency.”

Overall, the odds of surviving a cardiac arrest are almost four times greater if someone performs CPR right away. When CPR is combined with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and used within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, survival rates can increase by as much as 75 percent. Without CPR and defibrillation, fewer than 5 per cent of people who have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive.

The Foundation recommends that all Canadians learn the life-saving skills of CPR and review this knowledge often.

Summer Picnic
Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 1:00 - 3:30 PM

We had loads of fun at this year's summer picnic! Check out photos in the Gallery!

Heart Heroes Youth Camp 2014
Tuesday, July 1 to Friday, July 4, 2014

The kids from the Heart Heroes Youth Program had a blast at this year's Youth Camp! This year it was held at Camp Douglas on Tuesday July 1st to Friday July 4th, 2014.

The kids tried their hands at conquering a rock climbing tower, a high ropes course, had a splash in the outdoor pool and slides, mini golf, basketball and many other group activities.

A big thank you goes to The Winnipeg Foundation, The Field of Dreams Foundation and CIBC Woodgundy for sponsoring the camp which allowed the heart heroes go for free!

A thank you goes to Cheryl Janz, Heart Heroes Youth Program Coordinator, for coordinating this successful and fun camp!