Holland Bloorview gets kids to speak to their future

The hospital's latest campaign to tackle disability stigmas illustrates exactly what a more accessible world would look like.
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The newest fundraising effort from Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is letting the kids it helps illustrate what they hope to find in a truly inclusive world.

The partially-animated “Imagine Everybody” campaign is meant to both promote disability awareness and get people to donate to its new Imagination Fund. It does this by imagining a world where disability is considered in everything from public infrastructure to parks, building on the success of Holland Bloorview’s award-winning, ableism-focused “Dear Everybody” campaign that brought widespread attention to the importance of disability inclusion.

But where “Dear Everybody” had been focused more on bringing attention on how ableism comes up in the media, the ways we talk and our interactions with people, the new “Imagine Everybody” campaign is more focused on the future and the changes that need to happen in order to make the world truly accessible to everybody. One thing that has stayed the same, however, is doing so through the voice of the people Holland Bloorview is trying to help.

“We pride ourselves on centering the kids’ voices in the campaign,” says Ashleigh Saith, VP of strategy and public engagement at Holland Bloorview, who tells strategy the organization asked kids who face barriers such as cerebral palsy, autism and speech impediments to envision the future they would like to see. It’s an approach Holland Bloorview’s president and CEO Julia Hanigsberg calls “going directly to the experts.”

As an organization, Saith says Holland Bloorview aims to strike the right balance between addressing challenges, but also offering an optimistic tone. The campaign is informed by a recent survey by Canadian polling firm Leger, revealing that only about one in 10 respondents have seen examples of technological, social or systemic disability inclusion in their most recent school or educational institution.

The Imagination Fund, new this year, will help fund essential programs, services and transformational research at Holland Bloorview. Professional services brand EY is matching contributions, doubling gifts up to $25,000.

Typically, the organization launches the campaign the last week in August to ramp up for the fall fundraising season, as it’s a good opportunity to stand out before things get busy. The target audience, Saith explains, has typically been young parents, but it’s also including a broader demographic of those who might be considering a gift, she says.

It has a diverse mix of media, slightly modified from past years when it leaned into digital because of lockdowns. This year it’s bringing OOH back into the mix, and there is also advertorial content, OLV, digital and radio that is aiming for as broad a reach as possible.

The Toronto-based arm of global agency Forsman & Bodenfors has been the lead on Holland Bloorview’s creative since “Dear Everybody” launched in 2017. Holland Bloorview handled the buy internally and spend is roughly the same as last year, with digital spending redirected to OOH.