Tuesday 7 May 2013

The Toonie Challenge: a great initiative for students to support MUHC

Town of Mount Royal’s Michael Kounadis is one sharp fellow. The Selwyn House high school student made an immediate impression upon me as he stepped to the microphone as part of a well produced program organized by the McGill University Health Centre (MUCH).

Kounadis,  whose dad Dennis is one of the city’s sharpest lawyers,  was taking part in the public kick-off of The Toonie Challenge, an MUHC initiative involving local Montreal schools.  Students have been busy collecting toonies for the MUHC Foundation as part of the hospital’s Best Care for Life Campaign, which supports the building of the new Glen site and vital equipment purchases. The long-term fundraising goal is to raise 69,000 toonies ($138,000), enough to circle the entire Glen site (1,932 metres) if placed end-to-end.

Held at Glen Hall of the new MUCH Administrative Centre next to the Vendome Metro and a short walk from the  new super hospital which will be completed in  the fall of 2014, the ceremony fed on the enthusiasm of youngsters like Kounadis who spoke about how they organized their own  toonie challenges. “We did a bake sale during Valentine’s Day,” Kounados explained,  “and a joint school carnival with The Study.”

A total of $14,012 was raised – representing 7,006 toonies.  Besides Selwyn House, other QAIS (Quebec Association of Independent Schools) participating schools were  ECS, Lower Canada College, Sacred Heart, The Study, Trafalgar, Vanguard, Villa Maria and  Queen of Angels. Tim Peters from the PriorySchool was there with some student ambassadors and Irene Miller from the English Montreal School Board, each party observing for possible participation next year.
Students proudly display a large version of the cheque, representing the money raised in the Toonie Challenge. That is Michael Kounadis, second row, fifth from the right.

At ECS,  for instance, the students sold smoothies for $4 (two toonies) , organized toonie races (lining toonies up along the ground) and held a free dress day. The latter was a common activity at most schools.

Dr. Preetha Krishnamoorthy, an attending physician of the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, addressed the  group. A truly dynamic speaker, she spoke with great enthusiasm about the new facility. She explained that when her patients turn 18 she must say good-bye and send them to another building.  “With the new campus my patients will go right next door,” she said.
Dr. Jonathan Meakins, Director of the Heritage Centre of the MUHC, praised the Toonie Challenge and noted that this initial donation represents 10 percent of the toonies necessary to surround the new site.

Following the presentation, students will be invited to visit a variety of health kiosks covering topics such as nutrition, the importance of volunteering, nursing, trauma prevention and more. 

After the speeches, students and guests circulated around the room to browse at different information kiosks dealing with  everything from archival items to nutrition.

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