Summer so far

Patrick’s Summer – 2011

Patrick is having a busy summer.  Quite a number of appointments this summer, new orthotics are being made and looking at some different ideas for seating to keep him sitting up straighter and better in his wheelchair, along with a number of other follow ups regarding his potassium levels and his blood pressure.  We have recently found out that Patrick’s kidneys are only working 60-70% normal, so he is being followed closely to keep an eye on their function.

Casting for new Orthotics

Patrick started attending respite this summer, two weekends and 1 week away throughout June/July and August.  He has been enjoying them.  The week in August is the first time for that length of time he’s been away with people he didn’t know.  He’s had a couple rough moments, but overall enjoying himself.  He has gone to the movies, bowling and gone on some walks, done crafts…attempted some swimming and more.

Patrick will be attending Drama Camp again this year.

This program is put on for children using Augmentative Communication Devices, through Thames Valley Children’s Centre and The Original Kids Theatre Company.  There were 2 sessions, morning – for those attending for the first time, and afternoon – for those who have had experience already attending.

Patrick will attend the afternoon sessions, going down to the theatre with one of his respite workers via para-transit, Monday to Thursday for a week.  Friday morning they put on the performances.

They are doing 3 plays.  The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Sounds of the Night and The Eighth Dwarf.  Each child has their lines for the plays programmed into their communication devices prior to the camp.  Patrick reminds me every day to go over his plays with him, so he can do his lines! All the plays were written and directed by one of the Original Kids.

Each child was paired with one of the Original kids for each play to help them along when necessary.  The first 3 days were spent rehearsing the plays.  Thursday was dress rehearsal day.  Friday morning both groups, morning and afternoon, put on their plays for family and friends at the Spriet Family Theatre, downtown in the Covent Garden market.

All the kids have a great time!  They receive a certificate, a poster, a shirt, and a program.  Wonderful memories indeed!

We will be starting to work on our school time schedule for mornings and bedtimes to help get a head start on the routines he will be using for school.  He’s going into high-school; it will be a big change for him.  We went out a couple weeks ago to get his school uniforms.  He’s been counting down to school all summer!  He is excited and happy that school will be back soon!  He can’t wait to see his friends and the EA’s!

Trying on School Uniforms for Highschool

 

Special Olympics

Special Olympics is humanity’s greatest classroom, where lessons of ability, acceptance and inclusion are taught on the fields of competition by our greatest teachers – the athletes”

 

Special Olympics Canada

http://www.specialolympics.ca/en/

Special Olympics International

http://specialolympics.org/

Special Olympics Ontario

http://www.specialolympicsontario.com/

 

MISSION STATEMENT

To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics promotes opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and develop skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes and the community.

Over the past 40 years Special Olympics has grown from a modest program serving local athletes to become the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sports.

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The purpose of this article is to bring attention and information of this great program that is available in most communities.  The benefits are great whether you are an athlete, coach, support staff or volunteer.  Your life will be enriched and forever changed.

Last summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer for the 2010 Special Olympics Summer Games held here in London, ON.  It was a time I’ll never forget!

London did an amazing job hosting and it showed in the faces and comments of the coaches, athletes and support staff.

The games created fun times and proud moments for the athletes, their teams and friends and family.  Many achieved goals, broke personal records and made new records for themselves and/or their teams.

Meeting so many wonderful people, athletes, coaches, support staff and other volunteers made this experience so amazing!  The athletes were the best!!

An Uncle of mine coaches a couple of the teams in Halifax.  When we have our family reunions they always consist of a softball game between the family and the athletes.  It’s something everyone looks forward to every year.  On top of that is a yearly BBQ my Uncle holds for them and many of the family are there to lend a hand in the preparations and happenings of the day.

There are 14 sports, and many Athletes do more than one!

http://info.specialolympicsontario.ca/programs-policies-procedures/14-sports

  • 5 Pin Bowling
  • 10 Pin Bowling
  • Alpine Skiing
  • Athletics (Track and Field)
  • Basketball
  • Bocce
  • Curling
  • Figure Skating
  • Floor Hockey
  • Golf
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Power-lifting
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Snowshoeing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Speed Skating
  • Swimming

There are Regional, Provincial, National and World Games held.  Provincial Games are held on a rotating basis over a four-year period.  National Games are held every 2 years on a rotating basis. Athletes are selected from national competition to advance to World Games also held every two years on a rotating winter and summer basis.

Listed below are links to the District sites for Special Olympics, followed by a link to find Special Olympic programs by Community.

 

Central Ontario District - http://central.specialolympicsontario.ca/

Eastern Ontario District - http://east.specialolympicsontario.ca/

GTA District Sitehttp://gta.specialolympicsontario.ca/

Northern Ontario District - http://north.specialolympicsontario.ca/

South Central District - http://southcentral.specialolympicsontario.ca/

South West District - http://southwest.specialolympicsontario.ca/

 

Special Olympic Programs by Community - http://directory.specialolympicsontario.ca/Community-Programs/

 

 

Special Olympics are proud to be affiliated with The Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run.

http://www.torchrunontario.com/

The Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run is a community-based, province-wide event that sees the “Flame of Hope” carried across Ontario by members of law enforcement agencies from across the province.  The objective of this and other events is to raise funds for and awareness of the Special Olympics movement in Ontario.

The Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run is making a difference by raising funds for Special Olympics Ontario, and all funds raised are directed into community Special Olympics programs.  As well, the torch run involves law enforcement personnel in a community based, province wide program.  The torch run sets up community partnerships with sponsors, Special Olympics volunteers and local supporters, to reach a shared vision of helping athletes.

Special Olympics Ontario uses the funds raised to support three major initiatives:

  • Competition funding for communities hosting provincial and regional competitions, including travel and registration costs
  • Staff support, including SOO field staff
  • Support grants to new programs, competitions such as Hometown Games and programs in need, which amounts to approximately $250,000 per year

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The Special Olympics Programs are an amazing opportunity for youth and young adults to participate in a sport of their liking (some more than 1 or 2), make some great friendships, feel pride and accomplishment, attend some great social events, and enjoy new opportunities.

The joy and smiles on all of the Athletes faces is infectious and you can’t help but be taken in as you are surrounded by the warmth, happiness and pride!

Take a few moments to read some of the testimonials from the Athletes, coaches and family at the following link.

http://www.specialolympicsontario.com/default.asp?contentID=48

 

If you would like to become a volunteer for Special Olympics, here is where to start!

http://www.specialolympicsontario.com/default.asp?contentID=21

 

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/specialolympicsontario

Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/specialolympicson

 

A communication summer helps prepare for school!

Patrick’s Summer – 2010

Patrick had a busy summer.  Being a child that uses an Augmentative Communication Device called a DynaVox, Patrick was able to attend a new summer camp this year, Word Warriors.

Word Warriors was a 7 week camp, meeting every Tuesday morning at Thames Valley Children’s Centre for children using augmentative communication devices, to work on Core Vocabulary.

Core vocabulary is a relatively small number of words that constitute the vast majority of what is said in normal conversation.  With a few hundred words, a person can say over 80% of what is needed (Vanderheiden &Kelso, 1987).

Each week 2-3 core vocabulary words were used as ‘passwords’ to enter the room.  Stories and games were read and played that incorporated the words for the day, as well as words that were previously used.  The children were encouraged to participate as well, by asking and answering questions using their core vocabulary.

They had a great time!  Patrick really enjoyed and looked forward to going.

Patrick also had the opportunity to attend a Drama Camp again this year.  His first time was in 2008, this is his 2nd year.

This program is put on, again, for children using Augmentative Communication Devices, through Thames Valley Children’s Centre and The Original Kids Theatre Company.  There were 2 sessions, morning – for those attending for the first time, and afternoon – for those who have had experience already attending.

Patrick attended the afternoon sessions, going down to the theatre with one of his respite workers via para-transit, Monday to Thursday for a week.  Friday morning they put on the performances.

They did 3 plays.  Alice in Wonderland, The Right Nest and Wombat Stew.  Patrick played March Hare 2 in Alice in Wonderland, the Husband Bird in The Right Nest and the Emu in Wombat Stew.  Each child had their lines for the plays programmed into their communication devices prior to the camp.  Patrick reminded me everyday to go over his plays with him, so he could do his lines! All the plays were written and directed by one of the Original Kids.

Each child was paired with one of the Original kids for each play to help them along when necessary.  The first 3 days were spent rehearsing the plays.  Thursday was dress rehearsal day.  Friday morning both groups, morning and afternoon, put on their plays for family and friends at the Spriet Family Theatre, downtown in the Covent Garden market.

All the kids had a great time!  They received a certificate, a poster, a shirt, a program and a gerbera daisy.  Wonderful memories indeed!

These camps this summer have helped Patrick a lot with also preparing for school.  Using and getting more familiar with some core vocabulary will help a lot in communication, not only for school, but where ever he may be/go.

We have started working on our school time schedule for mornings and bedtimes to help get a head start on the routines he will be using for school.  He’s still tired, but there’s still a week to go.  He’s been counting down to school for 2 months!  We have a calendar I made up and we’ve kept track of all the camps, weekends with his Dad, appointments and when back to time is.  We mark each day off with an “X” as it passes and count how many till each event, including school.

He is excited and happy that school will be back soon!  He can’t wait to see his friends and the EA’s!

A week of memories at the National Special Olympic Games!

Well, the National Special Olympics Games are now over.  It was a great week!  Many happy, smiling faces!

The opening ceremonies on Tuesday night went great and had some surprises for everyone!

I was one of the volunteers that was assigned to walk the British Columbia Team, following AB, into the ceremony.  AB lead first, leading teams from all the provinces.  Ontario came last and was escorted by the pipe band, it was an exciting time!

Our team of volunteers also helped seat a few of the other provinces as well.  Nova Scotia had blue noses!  Quebec has the fleur de lis on their cheeks! NWT looked sharp with their fedora type hats!  AB I believe, had ‘horse tails’ hanging from their hats.  Stringy ‘pom poms’ to mimic horse tails.  There were many other teams that had their own unique way of showing their proud provincial enthusiasm!!  Chants and shouts of pride and encouragement echoed throughout the evening!

The Games flag arrived by helicopter, then transferred to a tactical vehicle and raced into the stadium, where Don Cherry got out, accompanied by 3 London Knights hockey players.  He was escorted to the front where he handed over the flag to be raised for the games.  It was something to see AND hear, as all the athletes were so excited to see him and started chanting…’cher-ry! cher-ry! cher-ry!’  :)

The last leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run came running in, followed by the Olympic Torch escorted by motorcycle officers.  100’s of law enforcement people took turns carrying the Torch across Canada to bring it here to London for the games.

One special Olympian, and I’m sorry her name escapes me at the moment, lit the Game cauldron to signal the official start of the games!

At the end of the ceremonies, the athletes were escorted out through a walkway of the Law Enforcement torch bearers.  High fives, welcomes, best wishes and good luck were abundant as they marched through!

At the Aquatic Centre, where the bulk of my shifts were, was a great team who worked well together!   Many of the coaches, mission staff and organizers were very pleased and impressed with how well we did.  Some said they had never seen it run so well and so smoothly.  It really helped the coaches alot, not having to worry about too much because we were always there with a smile, a helping hand, and had things running so wonderfully!  It was great to hear so many compliments.  We were just happy to be there and see the joy, smiles, high fives and how proud the athletes were!  Some of them broke personal best records!! :)

The closing ceremonies went well, even with a venue change a few hours before it was to begin.  Rain and threatening weather had made it necessary to move everything from TD Waterhouse Stadium to the Thompson Arena.  The volunteers and organizers were brilliant in getting everything moved and set up in time.

There was a brief moment of concern at one point, as to how we were going to fit all 1400 athletes, coaches and mission staff into the bleachers.  Family, supporters and friends were seated on the ‘ice’.  With the move happening so quickly and in such a short time, the attendance was phenomenal!!  More chairs were continually needing to be set up down below for the families etc…and many were still standing!!

With some maneuvering and moving about of teams, we finally had pretty much everyone seated! :)

The Western University Cheerleaders did some amazing ‘stunts’ and had the crowd clapping, cheering and excited!  During their warm up, they went into the bleachers as the athletes were being seated and got them rallying and chanting for their province!

The night was a huge success!!  The whole week was a grand success!!

Definitely a week of  meeting some great people from all across Canada, seeing the joy and pride on the athletes faces, as well as the coaches and mission staff….and our faces too!! :)

A week of wonderful memories!!  I look forward to more!!

Accessible transportation – Seriously??

If you’re like many of us who require, use and depend on accessible transportation, I have a question for you!

How accessible is your city?  How much is accessible transportation in your area?  Is it worth it?  Can you afford it?  Is there enough?

Ok, that was more than one question!  Can you see where I’m going with this?

I am very thankful for the accessible transportation that is available, don’t get me wrong.  I do, however, find it very frustrating and think there is not enough available.  As well, with the cost of some of it, I find is not always affordable, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Here in London, our Paratransit system requires you to call 3 days in advance of your outing/appt etc, to book it.  You need to start calling FIRST thing in the morning, 7am to make sure you are able to get a time that suits your needs for that day.  You cannot call any earlier than 3 days prior.  Some days it takes 10min to get through, others it can take up to 45min or more.  I have, on more than one occasion, had to cancel an appt because by the time I’ve gotten through, a time was not available that suited the time we needed for the appt.

I did however find out today that it is possible to possibly make arrangements for appts that are perhaps consistent and consecutive over a period of time.  They aren’t always able to be approved, and it can take 4-6-8 weeks for approval of it, but it’s a possibility.  For example, Patrick will be attending an 8 week Word Warrior summer camp at TVCC, they have submitted to have the rides arranged so I will not have to call every time 3 days ahead, but it could still take weeks to get approved, and in the mean time, I will still need to make the calls until I’ve heard from them either way.

The cost of using Paratransit is the same price as a ticket for the local city busses, and they do accept bus tickets.  Not too bad, for the convenience of being picked up and dropped off at the house, rather than standing a waiting for a city bus and hoping that particular one is an accessible one.

A lot of preparation it seems sometimes to make arrangements just to go somewhere for an hour or two, but necessary.

My question now turns to…what about outside the city?  Paratransit is limited to the city limits.  The next option(s) are an accessible taxi and/or another type of accessible transportation like Voyageur.  Both of these options can be and are not exactly feasible for many people.

When I took my son to Nova Scotia last summer, Voyageur quoted me approx $600.00 just to go to the Toronto Airport!!!  WOW!!!  I could have purchased 2 sets of tickets to Halifax for that price!

My son LOVES to go see Thomas The Train when he comes to St. Thomas in July every summer.  A flat rate of $48 was quoted to me this afternoon, using an accessible taxi, for one way to St. Thomas.  That’s just one way, then there is the same amount to come back, PLUS the price of the tickets.  You’re looking at close to $150 for a couple of hours of  joy and entertainment.

If you’re like me, you want your child or loved one to get out, enjoy and experience all the fun things and places that so many others get to do.  We are not all fortunate enough to have an accessible vehicle, I do have the paperwork in for Presidents Choice Children’s’ Charities for funding for an accessible van, but it can take up to a year to hear back anything.

My son wants to go to African Lion Safari, he wants to pet the elephants, but honestly, I’m afraid to call and find out how much THAT would cost to get there and back!!!!

Perhaps it’s time to take another look at accessible transportation in our cities.  If enough people spoke up and inquired about how we can make this better for our children AND others with disabilities to be able to get out and do more and it not cost an arm and a leg or more, how great would that be?

I know what some of you are thinking, take a car and just bring a manuel chair, fold it up and stick it in the trunk!  What about those who are larger children, adults and others, who would love to enjoy many of these sites/venues, and it would mean lifting/carrying etc.  Sometimes it’s not possible in many situations, and sometimes many aren’t comfortable being ‘carried’ around, and feel more comfortable in their own chairs etc.

Those of you who can identify with similar situations, I’d love to hear your input on how you think the accessible transportation in your area is.

Are there other options that are available that aren’t as well-known, that we should know about?  If you know of any, please let us know, so we can pass on these great tidbits/gems that seem to be well hidden at times.

I hope to get my son out and experience a variety of things this summer, unfortunately it’s looking like they will all be within the city limits, because of the cost involved for the transportation.

I know there are many things to see and do here in London, but after all is said and done, is it too much for him to ask/want to see all the other great places outside the city too?

I will keep you posted on our trips and journeys this summer and pass on any great information tidbit I come across that may help with your planning too :)

Enjoy your summer!!

We’d love to hear about your trips too! :)

A busy summer coming

It looks like summer will be busy after all!  I can’t believe school will be done in a week and a half already!

I’m volunteering for the National Special Olympic Games this summer here in London, ON.  I will be a marshall for the swimming, as well as helping with the athletes during the opening ceremonies on the Tues night.  The games are the week of the 11th in July.

I have been helping with the marketing and promotions for the games too.  Attending events between now the games to make people more aware of the games, what’s going on and what its about.

Next week is orientation.  I have offered to arrive early to help out there as well, with registration, handing out uniforms etc…  I’m looking forward to the games, it will be a great time!

I have family coming down from NS to check out the games as well.  My uncle coaches some of the athletes in Halifax for baseball.  It will be great to see them as well :)

As for Patrick, he’d like to attend the drama camp with the Original Kids theatre again this year.  He attended 2 yrs ago and enjoyed it.  Not sure what plays they’ll do this year, but I’m hoping we are able to find another respite worker who will be able to attend with him, since Andrea is not able to this year.

We are also waiting to hear about a weekly camp for augmentative communication, working on core vocabulary.  It would be for 8 weeks, every Tues morning, starting July 6th.  It sounds like they’ve gotten enough interest to go ahead with the program, so we’re waiting to hear the final word.  I think it will be great for Patrick, and if necessary, I can attend that one with him.

Aside from spending a week with his Dad as well this summer, I’m hoping to get out with him to a few different places as well.  He wants to go to NS again, lol, we’ll see what the summer brings :)

What’s going on with you this summer? :)

Getting back on track!

Well, life certainly does throw some curves at you, doesn’t it!

It’s been a busy past while.  Things are finally slowing down a little.

This past year, my son has grown so much.  He had seemed to be on a plateau for the past few years, and for whatever reason, he decided to ‘move on’.   It’s been wonderful to see!!

He’s outgrowing his clothes alot quicker!  lol

His communication is progressing wonderfully.  I’m currently in the process of updating his DynaVox.  He has now ‘advanced’ enough to use more of the features and vocabulary on it :))  It will take a little while to do it, but it will be so much better for him and the navigation will be much easier!

With all the stresses of life, being tired and the like, I decided, enough is enough, and in September signed up for a Cardio Kickboxing Bootcamp.  I know!!!  You’re asking – what were you thinking?  LOL    It was fun!!  It was 3 days a week for 4 weeks.  Stress does many different things to people, to me? if puts on weight!!  With being a Mom/caregiver/super woman (lol) along with all the other roles I have, it’s tough to look after yourself alot.  So if I want to continue to be around, I really do need to start taking care of myself also!  All parents know that, especially those with special needs children.  Easier said than done indeed!

I have so many things coming to mind right now to update you on…where to start  lol

We went to NS this summer for holidays!  Sister & I took the boys.  Patrick’s first time on a plane and the first time many of the family out there, got to meet the boys in person!  It was great!

I was worried about take off and landing and the plane noises being loud for him.  He wouldn’t tolerate them.  My boy is growing up!!  He did awesome!! :))  When the plane started moving to head for the runway, he was so excited and started clapping!  lol

WestJet was great as well!!  They really helped make things a little easier for us.  Having my sister and nephews there was a big help as well for me.  Patrick loves the boys, even if he doesn’t get to see them too often.

WestJet has some information for people traveling with special needs.  Some require forms to be filled out, but they do their best to accomodate everyone!  Using us as an example, Patrick obviously cannot fly by himself.  Our Ped. fill out one of the forms confirming that he would require an ‘attendant’ to fly.  WestJet agreed, approved and confirmed as well, within 24-48hrs.  It’s best to get the forms filled out as early as possible, some may require more extensive information.  With Patrick needing an ‘attendant’ to fly, his ticket would be the ‘usual’ price or whatever you’re purchasing the ticket for at that time.  As he is 12, he’s considered adult.  The ‘attendant’ pays only the taxes for their flight.  It worked out great for us.  It’s a big help financially, as many families know, sometimes expenses keep us from doing things, as well as the work it involves to do things like this with our kids.

That experience this summer has helped me become more confident and comfortable with planning future holidays with my son!  The first time is the toughest sometimes  lol

Oh, and Patrick LOVED it!!  He’s asking to go back!!  :))

Alright…well I’ve lost my train of thought now    lol

I’ll sign off for now…and will be making an effort to pop in once  a week at least from now on! :))

Have a wonderful day my friends!

Is summer really coming to an end so soon?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I appologize for that, life has and is pretty busy, especially the summer months, as I’m sure many of you know :)

A chance came up for me to take a short trip to halifax, NS to visit some family last week, and since my son was at his Dad’s for the week, I decided to take it.  It was so great being back there.  Time moves slower, life is more relaxed and laid back.  Weather was great! 

Managed to get to the Atlantic Jazz festival and public gardens on the Tuesday.  Met one of my best friends growing up and we hit Peggy’s Cove, loved it, what memories!  That week, the tall ships were arriving, so Thursday I went down to the harbour and got some pictures of the ships that were in and those coming in.  Went for a sail on one of them, The Mar.  We shot a cannon off out in the harbour, and some of the residue from the cannon landed in my hair, lol, burning hair and the smell of sulphur was all I could smell for the rest of the day, it was terrible lol  Even my Uncle could smell the sulphur and he can’t smell anything!  lol

The trip ended too soon.  I love seeing my family out there, wish I could go more.

Saturday afternoon, Patrick came home from his dad’s and off we went to see Thomas the train!  He’s been waiting to see him since his birthday in June.  He LOVED it!  I have pics and video of his smiling, excited, cute face :)

My sister and I got talking over that same weekend and decided, let’s take the boys down to NS.  It would be their first visit there and the first time the family will get to meet the boys.  They’ve seen pics, but not in person.

The trip is confirmed and booked, the planning of other parts of it, are still going on.  My next blog entry will be about the planning of this trip, with regards to flying with Patrick, a child with special needs.

More to come…

:)