One minute Nikeitha Blackwood was sitting in Scarborough’s Albert Campbell Square, chatting with her friends. In the next, she walked confidently to the middle of the square, took a deep breath and started dancing.
So did over 200 others. It was a flash mob.
Guy Bonnell, vice-president of community development for the hospital, explained the event.
“The residents can go to our local fitness clubs, yoga clubs and sports facilities to sign up for classes,” Bonnell said. “When they sign up for classes, the money they pay will be donated to the hospital.”
With the donations, the hospital is hoping to finish paying off its new $5-million MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine. The General campus of the hospital already had an MRI machine, but the Birchmount campus lacked the diagnostic device. For Dr. John Wright, president and CEO of the hospital, it couldn’t come soon enough.
“The doctors, patients and staff have been begging for about 10 years,” Wright said. “It finally arrived last October and is now fully operational.”
It took so long because with no government funding, the hospital had to raise all the money itself. Now that it’s here, Wright believes there will be an instant medical impact.
“It means that the wait times for an MRI for the patients in Scarborough have gone from among the worst in the province of Ontario to some of the best,” Wright said. “That’s what the people in Scarborough deserve.”
That’s a message that Shafeen Vellani, a volunteer at the flash dance event, could stand behind.
“It’s a really great cause,” Vellani said. “I’m volunteering for the experience and because I love giving back in any way I can.”
The public support from people like Vellani was exactly what the hospital was hoping for when they planned the opening performance.
“We wanted to reach out and give to our community in a grassroots sort of program,” Bonnell said. “The flash dance is something that’s fun, something that’s exciting and that involves all of the community.”
All of the dancers, like Blackwood who is a dance student at Jade’s Hip Hop Academy, volunteered their time.
“It took us about two weeks to prepare,” Blackwood said. “It was honestly really hard to learn all those moves, but it turned out great though.”
With the flash mob over, Bonnell was confident the tone had been set for a successful fundraising campaign.