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Tell us about yourself

I am originally from Edmonton, Alberta but completed my bachelor’s degree at Carleton University in Ottawa before moving to Vancouver, where I am currently in my fourth year of the MD/PhD program. Through my experiences as a varsity athlete doing volunteer work with the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and as a volunteer with Let’s Talk Science, I have had had the opportunity to volunteer with children and youth in various capacities since high school. I have always been passionate about engaging children in learning and helping them to achieve a strong start in life. My PhD research project is aimed at identifying some of the early life determinants of health and disease, and I find it very rewarding to be able to see the benefits of positive early life experiences on the children touched by the RBS.

How did you become involved in the Reading Bear Society?

I became involved in the Reading Bear Society after hearing about the RBS through my classmates and colleagues. Now mid-way through my research project, I was looking for a way to become more of an advocate for children and wanted to give back to the community by being a part of something that would have lasting, positive benefits for children of all walks of life. I was lucky enough to meet Joanne very shortly after joining the RBS and was very inspired and energized by her love and passion for what she does with the RBS!

What is your current role with the RBS?

My current role with the RBS is as Co-Chair of School Visits, primarily helping with organizing StrongStart visits and working with Jenn Wildi on implementing the Visits to Dr. Bear in StrongStart and Kindergarten classes this year. I also had the opportunity to help out with some Canuck Place visits and the Mom2Mom Christmas party last year.

What is your best memory of RBS?

Even in the short time that I’ve been with the RBS so far, I have had so many wonderful memories!! My favourite, however, would have to be when I helped out with a Canuck Place visit last year. There was a very small group on this particular day and one young boy who was very shy at first, but as we read books together he opened right up to me. By the end of the visit he was bringing me penguin teddies to sit in my, his, and the giant Polar Bear’s laps while we read together! It was so heart-warming and amazing to see how just a small amount of time spent reading together with a bear could make such a difference in a child’s day. I felt so lucky to be a part of something so special and rewarding.

Why do you support the RBS?

I am very inspired and humbled by the genuine passion everyone at the RBS has for improving the lives of children. The most amazing part about the RBS initiatives is the enduring positive benefits they have not only on a child’s literacy, but also on their well-being, emotional resilience, and sense of love and belonging. The laughter and delight brought to each child as they read with and hug the giant bear teddies is truly priceless, and my favourite part of each StrongStart visit is watching their faces light up as the children learn that they get to take their very own bear home!