Skip to main content
Earl Haig students posing with their oversized cheque to Holland Bloorview

How one high school’s students rallied for Holland Bloorview

Step into Earl Haig Secondary School, and you'll discover more than just classrooms and textbooks. It’s in the halls of this high school that kindness isn’t just a word but, instead, a way of life.

That kindness shows up in their record-breaking fundraising year. Working hard to fundraise for Holland Bloorview and kids with disabilities, their Outreach Week and annual carnival day raised over $9,000 – the largest donation in the school’s recent history.

Matthew Sawaya, the student activity council (SAC) representative, was a driving force behind these initiatives, channeling his dedication into creating meaningful experiences for the school community.

“We decided to support Holland Bloorview at the suggestion of one of our teachers,” he says.

“We and the hospital team organized two excursions to the facility, where students got the chance to see the incredible innovation that happens at Holland Bloorview. What surprised me and the students the most was how children-oriented the technology is helping kids receive rehabilitation services while engaging them in play.”

Students fundraised by selling services or products, selling bubble tea, and hosting events happening during Outreach Week where a  large part of their proceeds were donated to hospital. Teachers also participated during Holland Bloorview’s annual Capes for Kids fundraising week by wearing capes to raise awareness and fundraise.

Sawaya and the SAC also created a video to further explain why the school was rallying for the hospital.

"Involving kids in helping other kids, especially those with disabilities, promotes inclusivity. It helps high school students appreciate our diversity and empower those facing unique challenges," reflects Sawaya.

“By engaging in activities that support children with disabilities, we can learn the significance of empathy and the positive impact our actions—however small they may be—can have on creating a more supportive environment for everyone.”

For Sawaya, on a personal level, creating an inclusive community also involves realizing that not all disabilities are visible, but ensuring accessibility — like access to elevators — is key.

Prior to the school’s winter break, the students held a winter assembly where a Holland Bloorivew Ambassador was presented with the fundraising cheque.

“Her speech was short but inspiring and showed us that innovation makes anything possible,” says Sawaya.

“Although [the amount we fundraised] pales in comparison to some of the larger donations Holland Bloorview receives, we learned that every cent truly counts—we are so proud and privileged to be contributing to all the magic at the hospital.”