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Please note, masking is still mandatory at Holland Bloorview. A medical grade mask will be available upon entry.

Toronto hospital launches $25 million fundraising campaign to expand research institute and increase global impact for kids with disabilities

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital kicks off its largest research expansion in 120 years with a $4 million pledge. The expansion will bring new and state-of-the-art technology including Ontario’s first-fully accessible child-friendly research MRI.

TORONTO, ON (April 11, 2018) – Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Holland Bloorview) today announced a $25 million fundraising campaign to expand its research institute, marking the largest research expansion in the organization’s history.

Holland Bloorview will be home to Ontario’s first child-friendly research MRI fully accessible to children of all abilities, making it a premier international centre for the study of child and youth brain function. The expansion also includes state-of-the-art discovery hubs in machine learning and artificial intelligence, imaging, music and the arts, socioecological dimensions of childhood disability and neuromodulation.

The hospital has secured an extraordinary multi-million dollar pledge from Jason and Heather Smith, decade-long advocates, volunteers, fundraisers and leaders at Holland Bloorview. The Smith family will generously match all donations up to $4M as part of the launch of the largest research fundraising campaign in the organization’s history. Jason Smith is president and CEO of Real Matters (TSX: REAL), and is also the Chair of the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. Heather Smith has made an impact across Holland Bloorview as a volunteer for more than seven years.

The research institute expansion includes:

  • Discovery hubs in behavioural science, neuromodulation, machine learning, high-performance, gaming/app development, imaging, brain and body-machine interfacing, music and the arts, and socioecological dimensions of childhood disability
  • Commercialization and incubator space to shift evidence-based and life-changing research products into the global marketplace and nurture start-up ventures
  • State-of-the-art equipment including an Axilum robot, gravity-eliminated treadmill, exoskeleton system and much more
  • Recruitment of 10 new internationally-recognized scientists to drive forward new research areas

World-renowned scientists at Holland Bloorview’s research institute, the Bloorview Research Institute, promote innovative care and improve quality of life of children and youth with disabilities. In Canada, there are at least 400,000 children and youth with disabilities. Fifteen per cent of the worldwide population lives with a disability, according to data from the World Health Organization. This expansion of Holland Bloorview’s research institute will generate new scientific and clinical knowledge to improve the lives of children and youth with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, concussion and acquired brain injury, cerebral palsy, mental illness, muscular dystrophy, amputation, epilepsy, and other developmental disabilities – in Canada and worldwide.

Holland Bloorview’s history dates back to 1899. Nearly 120 years later, Holland Bloorview sees thousands of kids and youth with disabilities and multiple medical complexities annually. Its research institute was established in 2004 and has developed life-changing innovations with global impact such as the all-terrain knee, brain-computer interfaces; research programs to improve quality of life and health determinants; platforms that challenge disability stereotypes and stigma; and, exploration of how technology, music and the arts, genetics and more contribute to the lives children and youth with disabilities lead. For more information visit


“Research turns children’s hopes and dreams into the reality of meaningful and healthy futures. As global leaders unlocking the science of the developing brain and understanding and improving the quality of life of children with disabilities, we are transforming lives in Canada and worldwide – and to do so, we need the space and the equipment to retain and attract researchers of global standing. Our vision is a hospital where state-of-the-art technology and research leads to better health outcomes, richer life experiences, and a more just world for all children and youth.” – JULIA HANIGSBERG, president & CEO, Holland Bloorview

“We know that to grow, we must come together as a community to build a bold global future in childhood disability research. The strategic investment in infrastructure and technology to fulfil these dreams will have a transformational impact in brain science and beyond. We are grateful to Jason and Heather Smith for their leadership and generosity and to the many families, individuals and corporate partners who have supported Holland Bloorview’s continued growth. We can do this together.”–SANDRA HAWKEN, president & CEO, Holland Bloorview Foundation

“We are at a critical juncture. We are poised, like never before, to shape a future for children, youth and families through excellence in research and innovation. To drive even bolder discoveries and true global impact, our space, equipment, and scientific expertise must undergo strategic expansion.” – TOM CHAU, vice-president of research, Holland Bloorview

“Holland Bloorview has made a tremendous impact in our family’s life. Giving back helps ensure that all kids with disabilities and medical complexities have access to the latest research and technology – from scientists and staff who are changing the world – to help them live their fullest lives. We are proud to support Holland Bloorview’s research institute’s growth and urge others to do the same.” – JASON AND HEATHER SMITH

“Holland Bloorview stands tall as a global leader in paediatric disability research. Today’s announcement pushes us to a new frontier of discovery and impact. On behalf of the board, I’m grateful to our community of donors and in particular, the Smith family, for their generosity and commitment. In addition, I want to recognize hospital leaders, past and present, for laying the foundation of excellence that makes this expansion possible.”– CALLY HUNT, chair of the board of trustees


Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital creates a world of possibility by supporting children and youth living with disability, medical complexity, illness and injury. Holland Bloorview is a top 40 Canadian research hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and serves 7,500 families annually. Providing both inpatient and outpatient services, Holland Bloorview is renowned for its expertise in partnering with clients and families to provide exceptional care. For more information or to donate, visit

Media contact:

Michelle Stegnar, Communications

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital | | 416-425-6220 x.3497