Thanks to a $1.6 Million Donation from the Just for Kids Foundation, The Future of the Heart and Hands Pediatric Clinic is Secure

The Just for Kids Foundation pledges to raise $1.6 million for The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation over the next ten years to support the Heart and Hands Pediatric Clinic (Heart and Hands), located in Verdun Elementary School.

The long-term funding allows the non-profit clinic to continue its critical mission of providing much-needed healthcare services to some of Montreal's most underserved children.

Thanks to the Just for Kids Foundation’s timely donation, the clinic’s healthcare and allied healthcare teams (pediatricians, nurse clinician, dietitian, speech and language pathologist, and occupational therapists) can continue providing crucial services throughout the Sud-Ouest borough, particularly to over 1000 students attending Verdun Elementary School, Riverview Elementary School, and Beurling Academy of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) and the Rising Sun Childcare Centre.

"We are incredibly fortunate and deeply grateful. This donation ensures the continuation of many invaluable health and social services and programs,” said Dr. Geoffrey Dougherty, pediatrician at The Montreal Children’s Hospital. "Kids in the Sud-Ouest borough have numerous challenges, including higher rates of learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared to the rest of Montreal. Secure funding allows the clinic to meet these kids' physical, social, and emotional needs, giving them a good start in life."

The first years of childhood can determine critical outcomes for the rest of life.

Opened in 2019, the not-for-profit pediatric clinic is a unique collaboration between The Montreal Children’s Hospital, The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the LBPSB. The clinic provides children with healthcare services in an environment they trust – their school. Heart and Hands draws on the expertise of school administrators, teachers, medical and allied health professionals, families, and children to proactively understand each patient-student’s unique circumstances and provide holistic care solutions. Heart and Hands represents a highly successful united effort, bringing together the spheres of health, education and philanthropy at the local level.

The clinic provides evaluations and treatments for a variety of medical issues, with a focus on learning and behavioural difficulties, ADHD, obesity, and social and family challenges. Open one day a week, the clinic is staffed by McGill University medical residents, supervised by two pediatricians from The Children’s. The clinic gives future pediatricians hands-on experience. Pediatric residents work at the clinic throughout their three-year training program, learning about their young patients’ unique medical needs and how to address health inequalities and the social determinants of health.

"Early diagnosis and treatment of health, behavioural, and learning issues are crucial to set children up for success at school and at life,” explained Dr. David D’Arienzo, Clinic Co-Founder. “Our goal is to make healthcare as accessible as possible for children and families who often face barriers and difficulties navigating the healthcare system. Schools are seen as safe and welcoming environments, increasing the likelihood parents will turn to Heart and Hands for their child's medical and psycho-social needs.”

Lori McKergow, Principal of Verdun Elementary, emphasized the clinic's collaborative approach: "With parental approval, the school's administrators, teachers, social workers, and special educators regularly meet with the clinic team. This allows everyone to understand each child's unique needs, allowing us to coordinate tailored care to support the child physically, mentally, and academically in every way possible.”

Because every child counts

Learning about the challenges kids face in Verdun really touched the hearts of Just for Kids Foundation Board members. They saw how their financial support could directly and immediately impact the health and well-being of children from this community. As the sole benefactor supporting the Verdun clinic, the Just for Kids Foundation has launched an ambitious goal: raise $1.6 million over the next 10 years.

In recognition of the Just for Kids Foundation's amazing generosity and dedication to helping children thrive, the Verdun clinic is officially renamed the Just for Kids Foundation Heart & Hands Pediatric Clinic today.

"At Just for Kids Foundation, we are proud to fund the Just for Kids Foundation Heart & Hands Pediatric Clinic with a transformative gift of $1.6 million. This clinic will provide essential healthcare access to vulnerable children, significantly impacting countless families. Our donation enables a dedicated team to address complex medical and psychosocial conditions in coordination with local schools, The Children’s, and community resources,” said President Just for Kids Foundation Marissa Frishman. “The Just for Kids Foundation Heart & Hands Pediatric Clinic will profoundly improve the health and well-being of many children, ensuring they receive the care they deserve."

“The LBPSB is extremely pleased by today’s announcement regarding new funding for the Just for Kids Foundation Heart & Hands Pediatric Clinic. From the outset, the LBPSB has been very proud to be a part of this unique community-based initiative. Being a partner in this interprofessional approach to offer first-line medical services on-site at Verdun Elementary for children/families one day a week through the clinic is an important way to support student success," said Cindy Finn, Director General of the Lester B. Pearson School Board.

“The Just for Kids Foundation has been an outstanding supporter of The Children’s since 1987. Its backing of the Just for Kids Foundation Heart & Hands Pediatric Clinic will profoundly transform the lives of underserved children, The Foundation’s donation ensures the students’ medical and psychosocial needs are met, giving them a solid base on which to succeed academically. We are deeply grateful for Just for Kids Foundation’s unwavering commitment,” said Renée Vézina, President of The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.