Meet Zach and Kate, brother and sister and two Kid Creators of the Kid2Kid Advice project. Zach and Kate shared their wisdom in a series of videos to help other kids at Holland Bloorview. Kate loves dancing and is working towards her green belt in Taekwondo. When she grows up, she wants to be a teacher with a secondary job as an author. Zach is an aspiring scientist-inventor who loves “everything to do with science, the periodic table, how things work, and swimming.”
Zach has been a Holland Bloorview client since he was two years old, and Kate often accompanies her brother on his trips to the hospital. The two were part of a group of kids who came together to share their insights on life with a disability and life as a sibling.
The idea for the Kid2Kid Advice project first came from Dr. Angela Orsino, who noticed a gap after listening to her client’s stories.
“I realised that a lot of kids had great experiences they shared with me that I thought would be great for other kids to hear about. Or they had struggles that they wanted to talk about, whether it was peer relationships, bullying, etc. that I really felt [it would be more helpful to talk to other kids about rather than an adult]”. “I started to wonder [if there was] a way that kids could disseminate all this great experience that they have and share it with their peers.”
After conducting a needs assessment, and consulting with Dolly Menna-Dack who is the youth engagement strategy lead and clinical bioethicist at Holland Bloorview, Dolly pulled together an interdisciplinary team. This included occupational therapist Laura Howson-Strong, social workers Nadine Sunarich and Barbara Fisbein-Germon and their students and youth mentor Tai Young.
The team initially started recruiting kids with cerebral palsy, but the project evolved to include kids with all types of disabilities and their siblings.
Zach and Kate both hope the videos will help other kids like them. As Zach puts it, “Maybe my videos can help somebody just feel connected and feel like somebody understands them, just like they did for me. It might have a different effect on a lot of people, but (…) knowing that [the videos] will do something that helps them out really means a lot, because you can have good advice, but it's no good if you don't share it.”
Kate also hopes the videos will have a similar impact on others as they did for her. “I just want other people to be able to feel like somebody understands them. I made a friend in Kid2Kid and she had a sister who had a disability, and when we were talking it was like she knew what I was feeling and what I was going through. Even if [people] watch the videos and never meet me, I just want them to know that there are ways that people are going through the same thing as you, even if you don't know them.”
Nadine Sunarich, a social worker on the team, hopes the videos will empower kids. “I think it’s really important for kids to know (…) that they have the capacity and ability to support others as well, that they are resources within themselves and strong and resilient people.”
And this advice can be hard to get from anyone else. As Dolly Menna-Dack explains, "clients and siblings have wisdom and key learnings that nobody else has.” The K2K project is just one of the many ways that Holland Bloorview prioritises the voices of clients and families.
The videos include a range of topics chosen by the kids themselves, from talking about disability, to having hobbies, to making friends.
Zach also has some excellent advice for us all: “Sometimes you fall down, and I mean that quite literally, but you always have to remember to get back up and give it another shot.”
Visit our web page to access the full series of videos.
The Kid2Kid Advice project was made possible thanks to the generosity of donors.