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Strength, Hope and Courage

Jennifer Rae
Thursday, May 26, 2016

St. Gerald Catholic School’s Social Justice Committee: Stephanie, Katarina, Gabriella F., Emma, Nareh, Ciara, Ashling, Kristin, Dayna, and Gabriela M.

On the third floor of North York General Hospital, some of our young patients are curling up with brand new blankets and the knowledge that they are in the thoughts of other children in the community.

In April, members of St. Gerald Catholic School’s Social Justice Committee visited North York General’s Child and Teen unit with blankets and motivational posters to comfort and inspire patients, and a generous donation to North York General Foundation to support the future needs of this busy unit.

It all began with 12-year-old Stephanie’s response to an assignment that asked students to dream up a way to turn a negative into a positive.

Stephanie thought of the children being cared for in North York General Hospital and submitted her dream: “I dream that in every hospital bed lies strength, hope and courage.” The response in Stephanie’s classroom was so encouraging that she brought this thought back to her Social Justice Committee, a group of students that is passionate about raising awareness for issues that affect humanity.

Together, the committee developed an initiative to inform their school and raise funds for children in the hospital. The committee put a great deal of time, energy and enthusiasm into this cause, hanging posters around the school, and even holding an assembly to educate their classmates.

“These girls are a wonderful example of what students can do,” says Lisa Di Biase, St. Gerald teacher and Social Justice Committee Staff Advisor. “They are leading the community.”

North York General is a leading community paediatric hospital, seeing more than 35,000 child and youth patient visits each year. Our 12-bed inpatient Child and Teen unit treats patients with a variety of health concerns, including asthma and diabetes, and also helps patients through post-surgical recovery. Some patients need to stay in the unit for up to two months at a time.

“Our entire team would like to extend a thank you to the students, teachers and community of St. Gerald’s Catholic School for their generous donation,” says Dianne Rice, Clinical Team Manager. “The blankets will be a source of comfort and relaxation for our patients, and the beautiful poster boards with words of encouragement will bring many smiles and positive thoughts to our patients and families.”

The outpouring of support was much more than anticipated, and students donated more money than was earmarked to purchase the blankets. The Social Justice Committee felt that a monetary donation would be the perfect fit for the remaining money.

“We are grateful to these students for recognizing how their donation will help some of our youngest patients,” said Terry Pursell, North York General Foundation President & CEO. “What an inspiration to others in our community!” 

The Social Justice Committee is committed to helping causes worldwide, but there is something extra special about helping out in their old backyard. “It feels like we’re sharing in our community’s health,” explains Stephanie. “We’re sharing in their care and comfort.”

To find out how your school or community group can help patients at North York General, contact Kristina Cundari at 416-756-6802 or Kristina.Cundari@nygh.on.ca