Hannah O’Donnell’s passion, energy and sheer determination have inspired others throughout the province to participate in Change Day BC, a campaign that asks people to make a pledge to improve health care in BC.
And she is 11 years old.
Hannah first heard about Change Day BC through her mother, Catherine, a quality improvement consultant with Fraser Health. She immediately wanted to get involved and make a difference: she created her own pledge for Change Day BC, which was to get 100 other people to make a pledge, and she met with her principal at Woodland Park Elementary, who signed on to bring Change Day to the entire school. This ended up generating over 300 pledges.
Next Hannah expanded into her community, engaging neighbours, local Girl Guides and the Delta Police Pipe Band to join Change Day BC. She also challenged Surrey Memorial Hospital to get more pledges than she could – ultimately the two joined forces to engage the rest of Fraser Health and see if other communities could get more pledges than Surrey. Along with her friend Chanteya, Hannah spent hours wandering units speaking with staff as well as Fraser Health’s executive director and vice presidents in order to raise awareness of the campaign and generate pledges.
While Hannah, as an 11-year-old, does not have the opportunity to provide direct patient care, she has indirectly had tremendous influence over the health and care system by influencing the behaviours and actions of patients, clients and care providers. She inspired children and youth to think about their own health and wellness choices at a young age. And her ability to engage leadership and staff both within Fraser Health and beyond created a ripple effect of change and improvement in our system.
At the time of her nomination, Hannah had generated over 300 pledges; since then this number has more than doubled. She has inspired others throughout the province to improve their own health, as well as the health of our care system as a whole. Her engagement of peers, community members and health care providers has reminded us all how many small acts can add up to create big change.