At Holland Bloorview we love celebrating milestones—but more importantly, we love celebrating the young minds striving to make a difference and leaving their mark. One of those world-changers is 14-year-old Omar: a full-time Holland Bloorview ambassador and spreader of good cheer. We had a chance to talk to Omar about the challenges he’s faced, his favourite memory, and how he wants to change the world, one joke at a time.
Tell us a bit about yourself! What are your favourite things to do and hobbies?
I love making people laugh, playing video games, watching TV and playing outside. I also like building things and helping my dad with construction work or repairs.
What's the number one thing you want people to know about you?
I’m a funny guy and I like making people laugh.
What brought you to Holland Bloorview?
My sister and I were walking across the street and we got hit by a car. I was in a medically induced coma for a month and was badly hurt. I came to Holland Bloorview to get rehabilitated—I had therapy sessions every day and school on-site at Bloorview School.
How has Holland Bloorview helped you and your family? Are there any services or programs you’ve been a part of that you really enjoyed?
Holland Bloorview helped me in a lot of ways. They introduced me to various rehabilitation therapies including physiotherapy, language and speech therapy, cognitive group, psychosocial therapy and occupational therapy. The therapy sessions and interventions enabled me to walk, talk, run and even jump. I also got really close to all the therapists because I always cracked them up by telling jokes.
Outside of my therapy sessions, the school was great and didn’t let me fall behind in my classes. I also enjoyed the cooking class at The Bakery—it was fun because I got to eat what we made. I also loved the games room with the arcade activities.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I’m proud that I am a better version of myself. Before my accident, I was very shy and I never put my hand up in class. Now, I never stop talking—my siblings often tell me to be quiet! I’ve done some presentations since the accident, which I would not have done before the accident. And now I’m one of Holland Bloorview’s newest ambassadors.
What’s been your fondest memory while at Holland Bloorview?
I made a “fart family” with the therapeutic clowns, because it was weird how much the staff was obsessed with my bowel movements. Every morning they would ask, “Have you pooped? Have you peed?” The clowns and I made each other laugh about all of this and they came by to see me on my last day.
Throughout your journey, what growth or changes have you noticed or learned about yourself?
I have become more outgoing and less shy. Now, if I know the answer in class, I’ll put up my hand and am excited and eager to share my opinion.
How would you like to change the world?
I’d like to make the world a better place by having everyone in the whole world laugh. Life can sometimes be very serious, so laughing would cheer everyone up. If I can make just one person laugh every day, I know I would’ve made a difference and I’d feel really good.
I would also talk with all of the bullies in the world and make them understand that nasty words can really hurt people’s feelings.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would change about how people see kids with disabilities?
I would make everyone accept each person for the way they are, no matter their skin colour, gender, or if they have a disability or not.