EKO Scholar Lina Elsaadi

Lina ElsaadiGrowing up surrounded by people who helped her at Lansdowne Children’s Centre, where she’s received treatment, Lina Elsaadi says she always wanted to help others, so they didn’t have to face the hardships she did. In high school she developed her passion for media as an effective way to share stories. Now she’s a student in Ryerson University’s Media Production program.

Lina started gymnastics when she was three-years old and while her progress was significantly slower than the other girls, she persisted, aiming to go far in the sport. In 2017 she represented Canada at the world championships, and after that she says “I felt unstoppable.” She adds that her whole life she had to work harder to achieve the same results as others, but that drives her every day to be “a better me.”

She has many achievements. Lina completed Grade 10 RCM violin. She graduated on the Honour Roll, competed in science fairs, and developed a successful YouTube channel. Lina won a YMCA Peace Medal in 2018 for LINK Crew, helped Grade 9 students transition into their first year of secondary school, and was chosen for LINK crew again in her senior year. She curled for two years, won a city championship in badminton, was elected to Student Council twice, served on her school’s yearbook committee contributing designs and page layouts, and made morning announcements for years. She is known for asking “How can I help?”

Lina says her disabilities challenged her socially as well as academically and athletically. She described herself in school as “the odd one out.” So she made a decision to change her focus. Instead of pool parties on weekends, Lina filmed videos. Instead of sitting in the cafeteria at lunch, she could be found at UN Interact, planning a fundraiser. “If you ever asked me if I could take back all the bullying, the hardships, the disabilities, I would say no. They made me into the person I am today.”

Her teachers at North Park Collegiate say Lina stands out; she has a great deal of interest in making a difference in the world and she’s chosen a path that will make sure she does just that.