POGO Transitions Program counsellors provide free, one-on-one school and work counselling services Ontario-wide to eligible childhood cancer and brain tumour survivors aged 16 years and older. The program currently operates out of five locations in Ontario: Toronto, Hamilton, London, Kingston and Ottawa. Survivors outside of these locations can still apply for services. Please contact the counsellor nearest to your location or speak to your hospital health care team about making a referral. Get to know our POGO Transitions Team below!
Barb Williams (She/Her), BA, BSc
Email: Barb Williams
Barb began her career working with developmentally disabled adults, facilitating community integration and inclusion for the program participants. Barb returned to her studies to obtain a post-graduate Addiction Counselling certificate and worked in the addiction field before pursuing a counselling opportunity at POGO. Combining her education, work experience and counselling training, Barb served the direct needs of POGO Transitions clients for 15 years. She now manages the provincial POGO School and Work Transitions Program and the six counsellors working hard within it. Barb loves to create art when she is not managing her three sweet kids and a grouchy wiener dog.
Meet our Counsellors
Sarah Brandon (She/Her), BA, MA
CHEO and Kingston General Hospital
Email: Sarah Brandon
Sarah started her POGO counselling role in 2008 following a 15-year management role as the coordinator of a youth mental health program at CHEO. Sarah enjoys the privilege of serving childhood cancer survivors as part of the Aftercare teams at three different Eastern Ontario health centres. She is a passionate youth and young adult advocate, particularly for those differently abled, and lives and works by the tenants of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sarah also volunteers in the community and is the proud mother of three young adults and a crew of animals.
Carol Perry (She/Her), BAHSc
CHEO – Francophone
Email: Carol Perry
Carol grew up in Montreal. She studied therapeutic recreation and adult education but started her working life as a French teacher. From there, she worked for many years with the Ontario Autism program as a consultant to the school boards. She helped students on the spectrum successfully transition to school. Carol applies her professional advocacy skills to support survivors in achieving their work and life goals. In her spare time, Carol enjoys dragging her family around on “short little walks” in the forest. Predictably, they all get lost and have to take the long way home, forcing her family to enjoy more of her company.
Helen Antoniades (She/Her), BA, MSW
Hospital for Sick Children
Email: Helen Antoniades
Helen worked with families in medical settings as a clinical Social Worker for more than 15 years. She also founded and ran Butterfly Books, an online bookstore and blog for children and youth. The business specialized in therapeutic books and books that reflect diversity. Helen uses her training and experience to focus on understanding the different needs of each individual, supporting them in their struggles, and working with them to build on their strengths. Just like the late Queen, Helen loves corgis and has two of them. In the winter, she (mostly) enjoys watching the Leafs play hockey, and in the summer, she finds her happy place at the Rogers Centre, watching the Blue Jays play baseball.
Sharon D’Souza (She/Her), BA
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Email: Sharon D’souza
Sharon is an experienced career counsellor and academic advisor. For over seven years, Sharon specialized in one-on-one assessments and group facilitation at a Toronto youth employment agency. She has led programs to empower clients as they enter into school or work. Sharon has worked with cancer survivors, newcomers, those with disabilities, and those facing barriers to determining and achieving school and work goals. Outside of work, she is an avid board game player and frequent hiker.
Olivia Leja (She/Her), BA, MA
McMaster Children’s Hospital
Email: Olivia Leja
Olivia has been working in the vulnerable sector for the last ten years. Much of her experience is rooted in working with young people on the Autism spectrum and children with complex disabilities. More recently, she has been providing counselling services for young people experiencing anxiety and depression. Olivia brings a trauma-informed and person-centered lens to her counselling practice at POGO. When she is not on the clock with POGO, Olivia knits for her small (teeny tiny) business and plays with her Basset Hound, Walter.
Lindsay VanSickle (She/Her), B.Sc., B.Ed
Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre
Email: Lindsay VanSickle
Lindsay has over ten years of experience working with children and young adults with exceptionalities and disabilities. Her volunteer and professional experiences have all involved individualized planning based on student strengths, challenges and interests. From over seven years working as an educator, Lindsay has a solid understanding of elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions and their range of student support services. Lindsay proudly maintains her affiliation with the Ontario College of Teachers. When Lindsay is not counselling or tutoring, she busies herself with crafting, playing video games, or nature photography.
Jamie Irvine (He/Him), BSW
Email: Jamie Irvine
Jamie is a childhood cancer survivor who takes pride in his role within the POGO Transitions Program, where he contributes to amplifying the voice of all survivors. Jamie’s superpower is creativity. As a POGO ambassador, one of his favourite contributions has been a blog post he wrote about the “bottom” (see what he did there?) end of survivorship, entitled Poop and Farts. Reading and playing video games would be his well-developed hobbies if only his beloved cat, Lupin, would leave him alone. If you have a survivor story you want to submit to POGO, please contact Jamie!
Kirsten Efremov (She/Her), HBSc., MPH
Assistant to Survivorship, Psychosocial and Strategic Initiatives
Email: Kirsten Efremov
Kirsten wears many hats at POGO, one of them being a program assistant for the POGO Transitions Program. In this role, Kirsten contributes to the success of the Transitions program with brainstorming, troubleshooting and organizational skills that some would say (ok, the Transitions Program Manager would say) are off the charts! Kirsten is a two-time childhood cancer survivor and a young adult cancer survivor, and a strong advocate for both groups. In her downtime, she enjoys all things outdoors and volunteering. When at home, she gets super crafty with her Cricut.