Volunteers share their talents and help kids with special needs

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation teaching hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. Holland Bloorview provides programs and services to kids with special needs to help them reach their highest goals while having fun at the same time.

We place volunteers in many programs across the organization. They get a chance to help out in the programs that need it the most. Some of the more common placement areas include: recreation and therapy programs; transitions and lifeskills programs; research; nursing inpatient support programs and child development programs.

In these unique placements, volunteers often work one-on-one with kids and help enhance programs, while offering support to the kids who might need a little more attention. Volunteers are placed according to their skills and interests putting their passion into action.

Every hour of dedicated volunteer service allows Holland Bloorview to provide the best service possible to our families and clients. Because of volunteers, employees are able to offer individualized support which positively makes a difference to a child’s progress.

We realize that our passionate volunteers are essential to smooth running programs and to providing the best possible experiences for our clients. When we ask our volunteers at Holland Bloorview why they are so committed, they tell us that it’s a wonderful way to stay connected to the community, it’s rewarding, but ultimately they do it for the kids.

We asked a couple of volunteers about why they keep coming back, here are their stories.

Louise Ferrari’s story Therapeutic Playroom Volunteer – 10 years

I have been volunteering in the therapeutic playroom for over 10 years and I love my weekly visits with the kids. I get to help with their therapy and support the staff in therapeutic playroom programs. The kids are a pleasure to be around, the staff are wonderful.

It’s amazing to see how the kids respond to the therapeutic play programs. I have seen kids who we didn’t think would ever walk, take steps. They would not have been able to do this without this kind of play therapy. I am glad to be a part of something so wonderful. Working alongside, so many knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and kind people makes it even better.

In my daily life, I run a restaurant, find time for my family and grandkids and to visit the kids at Holland Bloorview. I do this because I can and it’s important to me to offer a helping hand to those who need it.

Jai Kawale’s story: Swim program volunteer – 1 year

I volunteer in the pool one day a week and make time between family, school and soccer commitments. Volunteering adds fulfillment to my life, I believe that we all have something to offer to someone else.

I help the instructors and therapists provide one-on-one help to the kids who need extra attention and this really makes a difference. There is one girl who comes to mind who was having a hard time paying attention and listening in a group. After a couple of weeks working one-on-one with her in that group, her skills really improved. This made a huge difference in how quickly she learned skills to keep up with the group.

The great thing about being in the pool is that it’s play time and we have a lot of fun.  It doesn’t feel like a volunteer job at all.  At Holland Bloorview, our families and clients benefit greatly from having dedicated volunteers. We would like to extend a big thank you to all the volunteers, including our family, youth and child leaders past and present that make a difference in the lives of the children we serve.