Engaging students one Toonie at a time

It’s never too early to educate children on the MUHC’s role in the Montreal community. Since 2012, the Toonie Challenge has engaged students and staff from elementary and high schools in Montreal for hands on learning about the MUHC’s clinical services and research and to raise funds for projects at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Défi Toonie“The Challenge focuses on patient welfare, student education and awareness of health issues,” says Nicole Small, co-chair of the event. “And each school choses its own activity to motivate students to raise Toonies—the more creative the better!”

This past November 4, the fifth edition of the Toonie Challenge took place at Roslyn Elementary School. What began with 10 schools from the Quebec Association of Independent Schools now features 12 public and private schools including St. George's Elementary, The Priory, Selwyn House School, Roslyn, ECS, Lower Canada College, Merton, The Study, Willingdon, West Island College, Gardenview, Vanguard, and Narnia Daycare.

For the Toonie Challenge, every year The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation provides the Friends of the MUHC with a list of items and projects needed by the hospital. Two items/projects are then chosen by the volunteers of the event and the winner is voted on by the student participants.

“It was an idea from the schools to let the students vote in order to inspire them and also so they know exactly where the Toonies are going,” says Nicole. “The 2017 projects voted on were a baby scale with a trolley for Complex Care, requiring the students to raise $7,500, and books for the Family Resource Centre at the MCH, for a total of $7,000.” The winning item/project will be announced at the Toonie Challenge cheque presentation to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation in Fall 2017.

Roslyn has taken part in the Challenge since 2015. School Principal Nicholas Katalifos explains that “Roslyn decided to join the Toonie Challenge because, as a school, we value the critical role that the MUHC plays within our community. The vast majority of families, if not all, have benefitted from the caring professionalism and expertise of the MUHC teams. In particular, the professionals of the Children’s Hospital have cared for thousands of kids in the Greater Montreal area – something we are all grateful for.”

The students were enthusiastic and excited to meet with MUHC staff. Hands-on kiosks stoked the students’ interest for learning about various topics such as cardiology, trauma prevention, research, pediatric dentistry, nutrition and the ocular pathology laboratory.

“The school staff are extremely enthusiastic about participating in the event,” says Nicholas Katalifos. “They feel that they are supporting an institution that has directly impacted their own lives or those of their friends and families in a very positive way.”