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Holland Bloorview challenges Canadians to rethink childhood disability

Survey finds Canadians believe kids with disabilities lead less fulfilling lives than typically developing kids

Toronto (ON) – October 4, 2016 – A recent national survey conducted by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital suggests Canadians equate disability with less satisfaction in life. The omnibus survey found that 45 per cent of Canadians believe kids with disabilities lead less fulfilling lives than those of typically developing kids.

“Holland Bloorview wants to challenge Canadians to rethink how they view disability,” says Julia Hanigsberg, President and CEO of Holland Bloorview. “We need to shift our thinking about what makes for a rich and full life. While kids with disabilities may face additional challenges, many of these are barriers put in front of them that we can help remove. All children have a right to fulfillment and satisfaction in life. At Holland Bloorview, we look at kids and see their possibilities, not disabilities, and build on the strengths of kids and their families.”

Holland Bloorview’s research institute explores quality of life as it relates to children and youth with disabilities. Areas of focus include barriers to inclusion, employment and accessibility, friendship and life skills development, and how all of the above contribute to satisfaction.

“Our research has long recognized that children with disabilities are first and foremost, children,” says Tom Chau, Vice-President of Research, Holland Bloorview. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, science continues to show the value of friendships, education, and participation to the development of children with disabilities. Our research includes efforts to enable children with disabilities to make music, play video games, communicate, engage in physical activity, participate in recreation, acquire job readiness and life skills, and achieve other life goals. We’d like the world to join us in celebrating these possibilities, and more.”

The national survey was conducted as part of Holland Bloorview’s Baking Good campaign to help address misconceptions around what it means to be a kid with disability.

Jan Magee’s 16-year-old son Wesley has been a client of Holland Bloorview since a young age and has participated in numerous research programs. “Wesley is an aspiring actor, a high school student, a video game enthusiast, a proud red belt in taekwondo, and an amazing brother. He also has cerebral palsy,” says Jan. “Wesley has made us see that while he might have a different life, it is also one that is rich, fun, and full of possibility. We’ve also developed more empathy and patience than we ever thought we could be capable of.”

As Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital, Holland Bloorview works to enhance the quality of life of kids with disabilities, including cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury, muscular dystrophy, amputation, spina bifida, arthritis, and autism. The hospital works with kids, youth, and families to advocate for a better health system and an inclusive society through a range of programs and services, including inpatient care, medical treatments, therapy, swimming, supported recreation, life and social skills, education and job-readiness, and music and arts.

To learn more about Holland Bloorview’s programs and services, visit


About Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized programs and clinical care for children and youth with rehabilitation and complex care needs to enable them to participate in life to the fullest. We are Canada’s leading pediatric rehabilitation teaching hospital, dedicated to being at the forefront of clinical care, research and education. As a key resource for Ontario, we are committed to partnerships to build clinical, academic and community capacity to enhance the quality of life for children with rehabilitation and complex care needs and their families. For more information or to make a donation, visit or to learn more about the campaign, visit


For more information, please contact:

Alexandra Babakhanova

Communications Associate

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

416-425-6220 ex. 6263