People like Adam often lead very sheltered lives with a whole lot of people ’speaking’ on his behalf. Yes, Adam is non-verbal but he does communicate and it is at camp where he gets really practiced at letting others know what he needs. I don’t always give him enough credit in this area but at camp he has a rare opportunity to function in his own right – something every young adult must do.
When Adam is at camp his family – siblings and caregivers – are afforded a most welcomed time of respite. Adam’s needs often ‘’trump’ anything else that might be going on in the family so when he is at camp, caregivers and siblings get the opportunity to come first. When he is away we are more apt to be spontaneous. We don’t have to ‘plan’ our every move. At one point it was suggested that I send my daughters to camp at the same time as Adam, an idea that has some merit I suppose, but the relationship I am able to have with my girls while Adam is away is precious beyond words. While training, respite opportunities, and integrated experience are the focus, the job this organization does in terms of public education and awareness must not be under-estimated.
In an atmosphere that is safe, challenging, supportive and kind, young people – able and disabled – learn about dignity. They learn that they are capable of things of which they have never dreamed. They learn that sometimes a great deal can be said without ’words’ and they learn that it takes more than one to portage a canoe. They learn that strength doesn’t always come packaged in fit and youthful bodies. They learn to be strong because of their likenesses and despite their differences, and because they are willing to let someone in on their foibles and accomplishments. These young people, without really knowing, educate and teach the spirit of awareness in their every action together.
563 Dundas St. East, Suite 201
Toronto, Ontario M5A 2B7
REACH is a registered non-profit organization
(#11911 1748 RR0001).
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