Bursary Recipients of 2021
Meet Mathew, Alexandra and Megan, three KidsAbility alumni who have demonstrated the resilience needed in 2021 to achieve their academic goals this fall.
Each year, we encourage clients and alumni of KidsAbility with aspiring plans to pursue their post-secondary goals to apply. You can visit our Carol Shantz Bursary page to access more information. The application process opens January 1st.
Mathew Chicago – 2021 Recipient of the Carol Shantz Bursary
Mathew knows what it’s like to overcome barriers and persevere. As a young man with autism, he credits the support of his wonderful family and the staff of St. John Bosco Catholic High School, in addition to his school years with KidsAbility as the foundation for learning strategies to communicate his thoughts and feelings, grow his independence and secure his future in the metal fabrication industry.
Throughout high school, Mathew found that volunteering was one way to challenge himself to be a leader. He would help find solutions and offer a sense of community and friendship when others were in need. He assisted young cadets and scouts through orientation, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and contributed to his school’s social justice league program, all while working part-time to support his future post-secondary goals.
For his effort and perseverance, Mathew is the 2021 recipient of the Carol Shantz Bursary Award, an award established to honour former KidsAbility School principal Carol Shantz. He looks forward to applying his skills in math and detailed, hands-on work to become a certified welder and pipe-fitter through one-on-one training at LJP Skills Training Welding School in Guelph.
Alexandra (Ali) Wolff – 2021 Recipient of the Steve Kidd Employee Benefits Consulting Bursary
Ali believes she’s become the best version of herself because of her community. As a child, she encountered hurdles to retain learned information. But with the early support of her speech therapists at KidsAbility, and her parents, teachers and Educational Assistants throughout her academic years, she’s never felt defeated because of her disability.
A graduate of St. David’s Secondary School in Waterloo, she’s developed skills, resources and self-awareness to advocate for her needs to help her to reach for her goal to work in health care with persistence and passion. Seeking to enrich her knowledge beyond the classroom, Ali has completed online health courses, volunteered with Canadian Blood Services and completed a placement with Grand River Hospital. She knows her post-secondary studies will not be easy but she hasn’t let challenges stop her before.
Her achievement is recognized with the Steve Kidd Benefit Bursary, a financial award given by Steve Kidd Employee Benefits Consulting to encourage and assist KidsAbility alumni entering or continuing their post-secondary achievements. In September, Ali will begin Respiratory Therapy studies at Conestoga College to fulfil her dream of providing supportive respiratory care to make an impact on the immediate needs of quality of life for adults, children and newborns.
Megan McMullen – 2021 Recipient of the Fisher Family Bursary
Megan McMullen does not, and will not, allow anything to hold her back. She overcomes challenges to be the best that she can – and has amassed over 500 volunteer community service hours to prove it!
Megan was born with Crouzon Syndrome, a craniofacial condition that affected her hearing from birth, and she began her journey with KidsAbility as a preschooler to receive physical, occupational, and speech and language therapy.
These days, Megan uses her experiences to advocate for herself and others, and bring awareness and visibility to important conversations about hearing loss. She has lent her voice as a past panel member for KidsAbility’s “Stories of Inspiration” event to discuss life with a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA). Her presence and personal success was particularly relevant and important for parents whose children have a BAHA.
From an inquisitive 4 year old to an intelligent young graduate of Jacob Hespeler Secondary School, attending university is simply the next step for Megan to envision her goals. As the first recipient of the Fisher Family Bursary, Megan will attend Wilfred Laurier University for User Experience Design, a program which will enable her to design changes to products and applications to accommodate people with disabilities.