Effective leaders have an inspiring vision.
During her tenure as her country’s top diplomat in Toronto, former consul general Kay McConney wanted to do more than shake hands and interact with foreign dignitaries and provide services to Barbadian nationals.
Just over a decade ago, she conceived the idea for the establishment of Barbados Ball Canada Aid (BBCA) to provide annual post-secondary bursaries and financial assistance to charitable organizations that offer health care services and programs.
In the last 10 years, the organization has presented $75,000 in scholarships to 22 students and donated $100,000 to health care initiatives in Barbados.
The BBCA honoured McConney for her foresight and charismatic leadership with the Barbados Ball Award at its annual fundraising gala recently.
“I am proud of my community, the work they have done and the kinds of partnerships they have created,” said McConney. “That is what we as a community are here to do as part of Canada and that is to make sure we are linking Canada with our community so that we are really creating a world that is truly ours.
“When this organization was set up, we were really clear that we wanted to focus on education and health. We also structured it so that that even though it may have started with government assistance, the community would eventually take ownership regardless of which government or consul general is in office. That has happened and this is a proud moment for me.”
Last February, the BBCA presented $20,000 to the newly-created Caribbean SickKids Paediatric Cancer & Blood Disorders Project (CSPCBDP).
The organization has pledged to contribute a further $30,000 over the next two years to the project that will help build health care capacity in Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and the Bahamas by training health care professionals, providing consultation and diagnostic expertise and developing and expanding access to treatment and supportive care.
The six hubs were selected based on some world-leading experts in blood disorders, paediatric cancer and infectious diseases who have roots in those countries. Children residing in Caribbean territories outside the six selected countries will have access to the specialists and facilities in the hubs closest to them for diagnosis and treatment.
It’s estimated that a Canadian child with cancer has close to a 90 per cent chance of surviving the disease, while the survival rate for a Caribbean youth is about 50 per cent. This inequality of outcomes along with results from a needs assessment survey identifying huge gaps in care in the Caribbean prompted the SickKids Foundation to launch the new initiative aimed at improving diagnoses and outcomes for children affected by paediatric cancers and serious blood disorders.
The BBCA donation will assist in funding nursing training and flow cytometry, which are essential components of laboratory services that are needed to effectively treat cancer.
“These laboratory services will also enable us to better determine the type of cancer each patient has so that treatment can be more appropriately targeted,” said CSPCBDP co-chair Dr. Upton Allen in the feature address. “It’s like trying to determine when to use a laser beam to target something as opposed to using a cannon, in order to minimize collateral damage.”
Dr. Allen, the division head of infectious diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children (HSC), predicts the ground-breaking project has the potential to be one of the most significant medical developments in the Caribbean.
SickKids Foundation has raised $2 million in less than a year to support the project. It’s seeking financial support from Canadian donors and naming opportunities are available for gifts from $25,000 to $2.5 million.
The foundation is looking to raise $8 million over five years.