Holland Bloorview alumni learns to lead

Lexin has just successfully completed her co-op placement with Holland Bloorview’s Foundation, as part of the Leading the Way program. She is about to graduate from high school, and in September she will begin the Human Resources program at Centennial College. Lexin has been a client at Holland Bloorview since age 4.  She is a writer, a poet, and a digital communications guru.  

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about context. Context injects information and significance into a subject. Since I’ve made Holland Bloorview a bigger aspect in my life, a bigger part of my context, it has changed my significance – or at least how I view it. Let me explain.

They say that the person you become is heavily influenced by the people you surround yourself with. With that in mind, I’ve come to realize that I underestimated the importance of the environment I place myself in. And I discovered how beneficial it’s been for me to be at Holland Bloorview.

My name is Lexin. I’m an 18-year-old high school co-op student with cerebral palsy. I’ve just finished taking part in Holland Bloorview’s Leading the Way program. (Leading the Way helps high school students with disabilities gain work experience and build connections.)

I worked in the hospital’s Foundation, as well as in its Human Resources department. Over the last few years, thanks to various appointments, programs and this latest work assignment, I went from visiting Holland Bloorview for annual check-ups to coming a few days a week. And I’m so glad I did.

When I was little, I worried a lot about how I’d have to eventually grow up and live my life independently. I never really saw anyone like me in media, or in the adult world around me, living their life as an independent person. 

There were really no role models I could look up to. I felt like they didn’t exist, so I had no idea what to expect, much less know how I was going to deal with the challenges ahead of me. 

I was never an in-patient at the hospital, and I lived too far for me to easily participate in weekly programs. So, school provided the context, and informed my identity, as I developed my view of myself.

As a result, I had a deeply internalized dislike for my disability, birthed from comparison and guilt. It was easy to see where I fell short when I looked around at my peers. It’s then also difficult to not be influenced by the covert negative connotations of disability within both society at large and in my direct communities. 

Naturally, this environment, and mindset, fostered challenges as I was coming into my own. It was so easy to feel lonely. That is to say, I felt like no one else was experiencing anything similar to my process of growth because no one in my immediate vicinity was going through something similar.

But even at a young age, when I thought about adulthood, I was hopeful when I thought about Holland Bloorview. It was the only place in my world where I saw possibility for an independent life after childhood.

Now, as someone who has been fortunate enough to experience working at Holland Bloorview, I couldn’t be more grateful. I didn’t realize how important representation is – representation of different people with different abilities in one place. 

Through working at Holland Bloorview, and being surrounded by such diversity and positivity, as well as inclusion and acceptance, it’s really helped me feel comfortable in my body, and helped me find my voice. 

I felt like my ideas were heard and valued. And I felt like I was an important part of the team. This encouraging environment paired with the amazing people I’ve worked with has given me confidence. 

I now feel like I can pursue a career anywhere, and live successfully. They’ve taught me what can be achieved through teamwork, and how to be more generous, in every sense of the word. 

Holland Bloorview allowed me to find value, and significance, in myself.

And I plan on taking what I’ve learned with me this fall when I start the Human Resources program at Centennial College.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in giving me the opportunity to work at Holland Bloorview. You’ve given me, and others, an invaluable experience, and an invaluable opportunity to grow.


p.s.  To read my poetry check out this recent BLOOM blog.