McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Celebrating 25 years — CanChild a pioneer and global leader in childhood disability

Published: June 20, 2014
Kyle Chambers and Jan Willem Gorter
From left: Kyle Chambers and Jan Willem Gorter, director of CanChild

It's hard to pull eleven year-old Kyle Chambers off a sports field. He's an avid baseball and basketball player, holds a green belt in karate, and is his school's male athlete of the year. He's not a big fan of soccer but will be watching the World Cup.

"Without sports, I don't know what I'd do with my life", says the eighth-grader. As a kid growing up with cerebral palsy — a disorder than can impair the brain and nervous system — he's also a role model for the families and scientists at McMaster University's CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research.

"Kyle's attitude and lifestyle reflect so much of what our research is all about, which is promoting participation", says McMaster professor Jan Willem Gorter, director of CanChild.

For the past 6 years Kyle has taken part in studies and accessed resources designed at CanChild that give children with chronic conditions opportunities to succeed in their communities.

According to Kyle, "with the right work ethic you can do anything with a disability … (Children may) have a disability that's holding them back but that doesn't mean they can't do it, it just means they have to do it in a different way".

He's also interested in the research studies he's participated in at McMaster.

"I learned that my blood flow is actually higher than other kids'. I have to work hard to do my athletic activities — even waking up in the morning — I have to overcome that".

Founded in 1989, CanChild is a pioneer and global leader in childhood disability research. This month, the centre's multi-disciplinary team of health scientists is celebrating 25 years of helping kids like Kyle.

To recognize the milestone, on June 23 CanChild is hosting a celebration for the families, researchers and university leaders who have helped make the program a success. The centre will also be re-launching a user-friendly CanChild website, premiering a special anniversary video and transitioning some of their resources to a pay-for-service model.

Kyle and his family will be on hand to mark the occasion. He will take part in a Q&A session addressing his experiences as a young person growing up with a disability.

"I'm thankful for the work CanChild does," says Kyle's mom, Christine Chambers. "It's helped our family have better care. And the research they've asked us to be involved in through the studies Kyle's been a part of have been great. We want to be a part of helping other families. No one wants to go through this alone."

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