From far and wide: Rehabilitation professionals, students from across the globe celebrate Canada 150

Annual UAlberta family fun event brings community together to learn about rehabilitation medicine in honour of Canada's 150th birthday

Amanda McCarthy - 03 June 2017

What's so great about living in Canada?

Ask Nevin Hammam that question and she'll tell you it's the nature-the widespread greenery in summer and the white mountains in the winter-and the accepting and sympathetic ways of the Canadian people.

She'll also tell you it's the opportunity to live your dream-an opportunity she took by accepting a University of Alberta postdoctoral fellowship in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine's Department of Physical Therapy.

Now, a year into her position, Hammam, originally a doctor from Egypt, took another opportunity to show others what's so great about Canada, and more specifically, rehabilitation medicine by volunteering at the Canada 150 Rehab Med Family Fun Day on Saturday, June 3.

"I enjoyed letting the kids use the ultrasound machine to see their bodies. It was cute how they were so amazed to see their joints under their skin!" said Hammam, who led the Ride the (Ultrasound) Waves activity booth at the event.

The event, which took place at the U of A, Corbett Hall front lawn from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., offered a wide range of fun, educational activities for kids, teens and adults. In celebration of Canada's 150th birthday, the event featured a Canada 150 photo contest, a massive bouncy castle, Rehab Med Canada 150 swag, a face painter, a balloon artist and a free ice cream sundae bar. It also celebrated rehabilitation medicine careers and allowed alumni, students and staff a chance to show their families and the community what they do for a living and teach them about rehabilitation medicine.

More importantly, children and teens had the opportunity to learn about physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology at the Rehab Med activity booths.

Hammam's booth was a hit at the event and a great way to add a 'fun' element to education and get children interested in careers in rehabilitation medicine.

"I'm doing a clinical study right now on the detection of the early signs of cardiovascular disease in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy. We're using an arterial ultrasound in this study, so I thought why not bring this to the family fun day?"

Children were excited to see how their joints, muscles and bones look through the eyes of the machine. And Hammam was sure to let the kids know how important it is to keep their bodies healthy.

Hammam moved to Edmonton with her husband in February 2016 and started her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta in May 2016. Before that, she completed her PhD in Egypt, her home country.

"Out of the different countries I have visited, I really like Canada, and knew this would be a great place to live. Now I just want to give back to Rehab Med and to Canada. I like to volunteer at events like these because I know how excited kids are to have these types of experiences. They ask questions, which is important.

Being relatively new to Canada, I view Rehab Med Family Fun Day as a great means for knowledge dissemination in a different, exciting way. Whether someone is new to Canada or not, they can actually talk to faculty, staff and students about different Rehab Med career opportunities, or they may actually be able to find out if they need consultation on a condition or injury."

And with over 500 people in attendance, it's safe to say that everyone walked away with a little something from Rehab Med, whether it was arms full of swag and prizes, a full belly or a head full of knowledge-or all three.

"The best part about the event was that there were people from all walks of life coming together as a community to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday and learn more about the rehabilitation professions. That's another thing I like about Canada: the multiculturalism," said Hammam.

The community spirit was showcased through the Canada 150 Rehab Med Canada Flag Mural, which was formed by the hand prints of attendees. Participants created a Canada flag hand print collage using red paint to forever signify this special day.

"It was exciting to celebrate Canada's birthday with all of its people. As a newcomer, that was really great for me. And to be able to teach children about the work I love, that made for a really special day."


Canada 150 at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

For almost as long as there's been a Canada, there's been a University of Alberta. Over the next year, in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary, we're proudly celebrating the people, achievements and ideas that contributed to the making of a confederation.

Join the celebration and make a difference

Together, our alumni are celebrating Canada's 150th birthday by creating the Canada 150 Alumni Award in Rehabilitation to advance the art and science of rehabilitation in our great nation. Your gift will establish a fund to support a University of Alberta alumnus pursuing a graduate degree in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. This award provides a unique opportunity for us to celebrate and make a difference for future generations of rehabilitation professionals, for the next 150 years and beyond. Visit for more information and to donate.