It’s apparent from just one hour chatting with Kelly Hadfield that she’s going to change the world.
Actually, she already has. But she plans on doing so much more.
From a young age, Kelly didn’t see barriers, she saw opportunities. Her family taught her that if you work hard for what you want, show kindness to others, and strongly believe in yourself, you find happiness and make a positive impact on the world.
“I was surrounded by people who had accomplished extraordinary things, and what they did just seemed normal,” she said. Her mother led by example showing her how to be compassionate as often as possible. She learned from her uncle to follow her dreams. And, while this particular Hadfield stayed on Earth, Kelly did start doing extraordinary acts at a young age.
“I have an anger threshold with regards to social justice issues. When I surpass that threshold, I do something to create a change—there’s no turning back.”
It was this intolerance for social injustices that sparked her to action while she was a Bear Creek student. In 2005, a hard-working friend of Kelly’s found herself unable to afford to go to prom, and that didn’t sit well with Kelly.
“She truly deserved to go,” Kelly said. “She had a lot of hardships in life, but she worked hard and accomplished so much by graduating. Prom is a celebration of what you’ve done in high school, and if anyone should go, it was her.”
Kelly realized that not being able to afford a dress stopped many girls from going to prom. This spurred her into action and she started the Simcoe County legacy that is The Prom Blitz – a volunteer organization which provides low-income teens with prom dresses, jewelry and other donated accessories. She and her mother Robin, along with many volunteers, have helped more than 1,500 girls over the past nine years.
Kelly enjoyed her time at Bear Creek. She played basketball, participated in every musical, and took part in her school council, among other activities. When she graduated, she knew she was ready to pursue her dreams.
“My advice to students is this: Go into a career and get involved in activities that engage and excite you. If you do this, you will always be happy.”
And what excites Kelly is helping people – physically, emotionally and mentally.
“Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. I love people. I want to help people be healthy, body and mind.”
She received her Bachelor of Biomedical Science (with honours) in 2011, and her Masters in Science, Integrative Biology, in 2013 from the University of Guelph. While at Guelph, Kelly helped her fellow students as a peer counsellor for the university’s Student Support Network. She spent over 500 hours connecting with other students and helping those in distress.
While going through university, Kelly discovered Operation Groundswell, a non-profit organization that runs international service learning programs abroad. There she developed and led two volunteer operations to help support health and community development in Ghana. It was here that Kelly’s threshold was tested again.
She was spending time at the Builsa District Hospital in northern Ghana, and very quickly realized that the hospital was lacking basic medical supplies. Kelly was spending time with a young boy named Moses who was a patient at the hospital. He was seemingly on the mend. But, because the hospital was without necessary equipment to monitor the vital signs of their patients—especially in pediatrics—he needlessly passed away.
“If the hospital had the basic diagnostic equipment, Moses likely would have survived. The right to one’s health is a basic human right, and being born in northern Ghana doesn’t justify such preventable deaths. I knew where my help was needed. I was quite aware that I was a foreigner there, and that this needed to be a community-based initiative. It was important to find out what this hospital’s overall needs were, and to do that, I needed to get the hospital on board and utilize a research-based approach.”
Kelly felt that many charitable organizations gave without knowing the ground-level situation, and then their donations ended up going unused or malfunctioning. So, she started canvasing the hospital staff and volunteers to find out what items were really in need—from blood pressure cuffs to tongue depressors—and she made a list of the top ten most requested items. That was the starting point of what grew into Ghana Medical Help.
The need stretched past Builsa to neighbouring hospitals, and Ghana Medical Help has grown. As the Executive Director, Kelly has made sure that the organization remains community-based, meeting the needs of each specific hospital they work with. In order to do this, Ghana Medical Help has a specific research-centered process in place to ensure the proper equipment and training is supplied.
The past four years have been busy for Kelly. She not only founded Ghana Medical Health and finished her Masters, she also continued to help out at the Prom Blitz, play basketball, and begin work as the fundraising coordinator for Operation Groundswell. Her horizons for now are set on continuing to develop Ghana Medical Help and attend medical school.
Kelly doesn’t think what she has done is extraordinary. She saw a need in her community and resolved to create a change. In fact, the 25 year old firmly believes that everyone can make a significant and positive impact in the world.
“Everyone has the capacity to create a positive change. You just need to recognize that fact, and then have the passion and the dedication to do it.”