David and Lynn Coriat (parents to Jessica above) have donated $100,000 to BLOOM. I interviewed David to learn about why his family made this generous donation! David is executive vice-president and chief financial officer at Slaight Communications, an investment and entertainment company in Toronto. Slaight is a partner in SiriusXM Canada. Covering the costs of BLOOM – which is mailed free of charge to families and professionals – is always a challenge. The Coriat’s significant donation will make both 2012 issues possible and allow us to expand into new formats – including a BLOOM speaker and video series. Thank you David and Lynn! Louise
BLOOM: What is your connection to Holland Bloorview?
David Coriat: My connection is my daughter Jessica, who has seen Dr. Wedge there on numerous occasions after surgeries. Jess has an affinity for Holland Bloorview and her eyes light up whenever she’s there. She’s told us a lot about what Holland Bloorview does for the kids.
BLOOM: Why did you decide to make this donation to BLOOM?
David Coriat: BLOOM offers parents a forum to learn more about other kids with disabilities and to learn about the environment as a whole – at a time when a lot of their friends and associates tend to move away from them because disability is still a stigma in our society. Parents of children with disabilities face challenges on a daily basis. What BLOOM does is offer a forum for learning and sharing and the comfort that “I’m not alone. There are a lot of people in the same situation.”
BLOOM: What have you learned as a father raising a daughter with a disability?
David Coriat: Our society still has a negative view of people with disability and our environment is not set up to nurture children with disabilities. Unless they’re fighters, these kids get buried in the system and shunned. When my daughter went through the school system, she was ridiculed. She has a strong personality and a tough skin, and was able to take it. But now I see her at 21 desperately looking for a job. She passes all the phone interviews because she has the gift of the gab, but the minute an employer sees her walker, the doors close.
BLOOM: What changes would you like to see to improve the lives of children with disabilities?
David Coriat: It has to start at the political level where disability is put at the forefront. And there has to be education at the school level, because kids are mean – and their parents are even meaner – when they see a kid with a disability. I think it’s going to take a couple of generations before kids with disabilities are accepted as part of the mainstream.
BLOOM: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
David Coriat: The key in my mind, for parents, is that even in your darkest day there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always a friendly shoulder or ear out there if you look for it – particularly among other parents who understand the challenges. And that is why I wouldn’t hesitate to support BLOOM. It provides a forum for hope and gives parents perspective.