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Transforming transition for youth with disabilities

David and Lynn Coriat believe that when youth with disabilities turn 18, something unfortunate happens.

Suddenly, they are expected to take on much more responsibility for their own care, but don’t always have the necessary skills or know-how.

“Many youth with disabilities don’t know how to take care of their own health,” David said frankly. “Come 18, they don’t know where to go. Invariably, a lot of kids end up in emergency because they don’t know what’s available to them.”

David and Lynn have been working with Holland Bloorview for over a decade to try to close this gap and help kids with disabilities make a smoother and easier transition to adulthood.

To acknowledge and celebrate the David and Lynn’s significant donations and tireless fundraising, the hospital plans on naming a section of its main floor, the Coriat Atrium.

Family connection

David and Lynn’s connection with Holland Bloorview began with their daughter, Jessica, who has cerebral palsy. She was a client of Holland Bloorview for over ten years.

“She speaks very highly of Holland Bloorview,” said Lynn. “She views it as a great and safe place to be, where you can get some of the best care in the world.”

Jessica, now 25, possesses an infectious “can do” attitude. She volunteers at Holland Bloorview as well as Toronto Rehab. And she’s very good at it.

So good in fact, Jessica was awarded Canada’s Volunteer Award this spring as a Community Leader for Ontario for making an exceptional contribution to improve the well-being of children and families.

Lessons from life experience

The same year Jessica began volunteering at Holland Bloorview (2008), David and Lynn established the Coriat Family Life Skills & Transitions Endowment Fund that led to the revival of Holland Bloorview’s Youth Mentorship Program in 2012.

This program connects youth with mentors who have had similar life experiences. They provide much-needed guidance and support around the challenges youth face as they grow up.

The Coriats have also contributed to the LIFEspan program – a joint program run by Holland Bloorview and Toronto Rehab.

LIFEspan helps youth and young adults who have cerebral palsy or brain injuries make the switch from pediatric to adult rehabilitation services.

At Holland Bloorview, LIFEspan staff help young adults from 16 to 18 prepare for the transfer to adult care.

After “graduation” at age 18, the LIFEspan service at Toronto Rehab gives young adults a single point of access for specialized rehabilitation, helping them develop skills to manage their own care and navigate the adult system.

Making even more impact

Most recently, David and Lynn made a significant contribution to support Holland Bloorview Foundation’s IMPACT Matching Campaign, with a key component being the development of a new Transitions to Adulthood Strategy.

This strategy will transform the journey to adulthood for youth with disabilities by breaking barriers, partnering with leading adults services, and by developing a young adults program to address the needs of 16-26-year-olds.

Spreading the word

While developing strategies likes this are so important to the Coriats, so too is getting the word out about Holland Bloorview’s programs and services.

They believe it’s crucial to have platforms where issues like youth-to-adult transition, as well as inclusion and integration can take place.

That’s why their donations have also funded the publication of BLOOM from 2011 to 2015, allowing Holland Bloorview’s magazine to continue to share articles and spark discussions that reach a national and international audience.

“The only way you’re going to be able to help kids become more independent is by awareness and awareness can come from different sources,” said David. “The more people that are aware of what Holland Bloorview does, the better, because people will talk.”