The Exercise Medicine Program, created within the Labatt Family Heart Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children, represents the first pediatric program in Canada that focuses on physical activity and sport-based recommendations for children with heart disease.
A common misconception is that children with heart disease should not be allowed to exercise or participate in sports as this would harm their heart.
As a result, most children with heart disease scarcely participate in physical activity programs or recreational sports, and end up leading a sedentary life.
Promoting a healthy, active lifestyle early in childhood is the best way to ensure positive outcomes later in life. Taking part in sports and playing with siblings and friends will not only make children physically stronger but also more socially engaged. This will improve the way they look at their life and improve their self-esteem.
An active child is an empowered child.
Arezo Farah, 13 years old
My name is Arezo Farah. I was born on May 26, 2002, and I am twelve years old. My hobbies include taekwondo, singing, reading, and math. Shortly after birth, I was diagnosed with Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries with Ventricular Septal Defect, Dextrocardia, and Bilateral Superior Vena Cavas.
I know, it’s a lot, right? That’s why when I was one year old, I underwent a complete surgical repair with a Mustard procedure, a Rastelli procedure, disconnection of the pulmonary artery stump and creation of a conduit between my right ventricle and pulmonary artery, and a right-sided bidirectional cavopulmonary connection to offload my right ventricle and connect my “SVCs” to my “PA”.
In other words, my heart was on the right whereas it should be on the left, therefore they had to rearrange some veins and arteries.
My family and I are very grateful to the Heart Centre at SickKids for all their continuous support and never-ending research. They really put an effort to make a difference in many families’ lives by providing the technology and care and support from doctors that we need to help kids thrive.
All of my procedures have gone great, and I feel perfectly normal. I can keep up with the average kid my age, as well as my friends at my taekwondo club. My yearly follow-ups have been going great, and it’s a huge relief to hear that everything’s going smoothly.
I think it is important to support Heart Research because children like me who are born with heart disease deserve to play, participate in physical activities, and lead a normal life just like other kids our age.
I support Hope for Hearts Gala and I hope you will choose to give children like me the possibility to have a better life.
Elijah is a sticky fingered, hair raising, ball of a good time.
“He can usually be found either following his big sister or tormenting his little brother but either way he is running, not walking and laughing hysterically” his mom Paula says.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone as happy (or as busy) as this little boy. It’s hard to believe that he underwent his first heart surgery before he was even born.It’s harder to believe that he had 3 open heart surgeries and several cath procedures before his first birthday.
Today he is about to turn 2 and is under no restrictions, is taking no medications and has only a scar to distinguish him from any other child.
Elijah’s mom says“The sky is the limit for Elijah thanks to the staff at Sick Kids. He may be one in one hundred statistically, but his is one in a million to us”