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Meet Saoud

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Immigrating to a new country at age 10 is challenging enough, but Saoud will tell you that it’s his physical disabilities that caused him the biggest problems at school. Kids bullied him because of his spina bifida.

Saoud in his Cut the Bull shirtSaoud, 15, was born in Morocco with his spinal cord not completely developed and his left leg stuck to his back. Despite the condition not being diagnosed before birth, he was lucky enough to receive great care in his native country. When his family moved to the Montreal, Canada area in 2012, they knew they wanted to continue Saoud’s care at a world-leading facility, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Canada. In 2013, Saoud had a seven-hour operation on his right thigh at the hospital. He now returns to see a variety of specialists every six months.

Around the same time as his operation, Saoud was dealing with another problem, bullying. In grade six, boys used to not only tease him, but bully him about his physical limitations. In the school yard, they would run away from him and yell things like “catch us if you can, Saoud”, knowing full well that with one leg amputated and arm crutches, he couldn’t catch them. They did it over and over and Saoud made it clear he was upset.

After several weeks of the bullying, Saoud talked to his parents about it. They suggested he speak to a teacher he trusted. Saoud chose a teacher he liked and told her what was happening. She gave all the bullies detentions and told their parents that they had been bullying a newly arrived Canadian with disabilities. Detentions were taken seriously at that school and Saoud says the boys’ parents were quite angry with their sons. The bullying never happened again.

Saoud and his parents chose a high school with a very diverse population known for its good academics and accepting student body. The bullying affected Saoud, however, and the experience has encouraged him to speak out about bullying with Canada Shriners Hospital’s #CutTheBull campaign. In 2017–2018, he’ll be touring schools with a hospital spokesperson, speaking to students about his bullying experience and how he overcame it, with the hope of helping others facing a similar situation and doing his part to end bullying.

If you’re in Canada and would like to have Saoud come speak at your school (in French), please email: moncommunications@shrinenet.org

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