No one is more qualified to attest to the importance of the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (HBKRH) and the heroic feats of its patients than Traffic Services Constable Joe McDougall.
His son, Nicholas, has cerebral palsy and has spent 20 of his 23 years at Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital.
Father and son were at police headquarters on February 16 to help launch a new partnership between Toronto Police and HBKRH and Capes for Kids – a one-week fundraiser for the hospital.
“I have been going to Holland Bloorview before I joined the Service, just over 20 years ago, so I know first-hand of the great work they do,” he said.
Nicholas McDougall attended school at the hospital for three years and was involved in many of its activities.
“He was part of the fledgling para wheelchair hockey team and he did occupational and speech therapy there,” added Joe McDougall. “He also celebrated his 16th birthday there. The hardest part was leaving because they have a family atmosphere. Their devices and programs are second to none.”
Chief Mark Saunders said the he was excited to sign the Service into a partnership with the HBKRH.
“This is an important opportunity for exposure. They do amazing work, not only from the healing and therapy point of view, but also in the areas of research and innovation,” Chief Saunders said. “This is an opportunity to get the message out into the city when it comes to health and well-being. We got involved because they asked us. They showed me, during a walkabout, what they did and I thought this is stuff the community needs to know more about.”
From March 6-12, the public is encouraged to join Holland Bloorview by wearing a cape to raise funds and awareness.
“The critical funds allow us to do the work we do every day,” said HBKRH Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Sandra Hawken.
The hospital focuses on improving the lives of kids with disabilities, those seeking rehabilitation after illness or trauma, and kids whose medical complexity requires specialized care.
A global leader in childhood disability research, teaching, and client- and family-centred care, the HBKRH serve nearly 7,500 children and youth annually, accounting for over 1,000 unique diagnoses.
“We are in the business of creating a world of possibilities for kids with disabilities,” said Hawken. “…At Holland Bloorview, we believe in a strength-based approach. It’s not what kids can’t do. It’s about what they can do and that is exactly what Capes for Kids encapsulates. We have so many extraordinary kids at Holland Bloorview.
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack agreed.
“The real heroes in the room are the children and the families,” he noted. “We have had a long-term relationship with Holland Bloorview which we have learnt is the best hospital nobody knows of. From the association’s perspective, we do a lot of great things with our members who contribute to many worthy charities. This is just another way for us to help out in the community. What better cause to support than a hospital for children.”
HBKRK youth ambassador Tai Young was the master of ceremony.
“The hospital has done so much for me in my life,” he said. “It has helped me to acquire skills and confidence to do just about anything I want to do in school, sports and life. It has even helped me launch my acting career. Capes for Kids is all about becoming your own hero for kids with disabilities. It is pretty cool to see two heroes joining forces – Holland Bloorview and Toronto Police.”
Donations can be made to the Cape for Kids campaign by registering at capesforkids.ca