There is much discrimination and unfairness in today’s society. What we need to keep reminding ourselves of is that no matter our race, age, gender, or capabilities, we are all living human beings. There are children who come into this world without a say in how their mental capacity functions, if they will be able to use their arms or use their legs. These are things many of us take for granted.
When I started volunteering at GF Strong Rehabilitation centre in Vancouver in 2005…
I was exposed to many people with obvious visible disabilities and also many people with not so obvious disabilities. Working with them in the gym to help them strengthen their muscles and joints, increase their heart rate on arms crank machine, or stationary bikes – I realized… their bodies have the same baseline requirements as everyone elses. Except these people are in the gym to try and fight for their bodies from further declining in function. I am talking about people ages 8-78, with a majority of the people I worked with in their mid-late thirties.
The conditions of many of the people included ABI (Aquired Brain Injury), Spinal Cord, Mental Health, or people with Congenital (born with) illness.
The types of equipment in there were mostly as you’d see in any other gym. Universal cable machine, bike, stepper, however there were many attachments and protective mechanisms to aid movements. An example would be a person would were cuffs around his wrist with a cable clip attached because he had no grip due to congenital rhematoid arthritis. My role would be to set up his equipment, set his weight, attach the clips, correct his posture, closely monitor and count his repetitions, watching the rest of the gym to make sure everyone is safely engaging in their exercises, strapped in to the equipment and it is adjusted properly.
Though my volunteer shifts were early in the morning while I was in university, everytime I finished my shift, I felt a sense of gratitude. As the years went on and the staff, nurses, coorindators, volunteers, and patients greeted me “Good morning Asma” in the hallways… I felt apart of their world. I continued volunteering at GF Strong until 2010. During Christmas time I have visited the centre to deliver cookies and milk to the inpatients, many of whom are watching TV alone in their rooms on Christmas Day.
I think there was an inherent part of me which wanted to continue to contribute to this other world that I was part of. Entering a team in to the Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay allows our team to raise funds to help send children with disabilities to a summer camp that nurtures their abilities and flourishes their physical and mental capabilities, builds their self-perception, self-confidence, and develops skills to help them integrate into society.
Our grand total in fundraising for this years Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay $4631.15.
Thank you to EVERY single one of you who supported this cause.