The Alberta Children’s Hospital has been a lifeline for Jake and his family. Specialists here have been caring for Jake since he was a baby and have supported him and his family every step of the way, something so very meaningful for the family especially since at the beginning, it wasn’t clear if Jake would ever take a step.
When Jake was eight months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder causing weakness on one side of his body. Deannie says being blessed with a child whose needs were different from her other three kids was a bit overwhelming, and they weren’t sure what Jake’s life would look like. As he grew up, his parents did their best to support him in whatever ways needed to be as independent and able as he could be, but with a hectic home life, it didn’t always happen. She says, for example, it was always easier to put his shoes on for him to get out the door faster. But as he got older, his needs changed. Thankfully, the Vi Riddell Children’s Pain and Rehabilitation Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital was there for Jake, just when he needed it.
Through the centre, Jake was able to enrol in a life-changing program called Camp Independence. For the past three years in the program, Jake has learned valuable life skills that any teenager would benefit from but that are catered to empowering youth like him. He learned how to plan his routes and take Calgary Transit, how to budget, shop for and cook his meals, and write resumes, practice job interviews and research post-secondary education. He came home from the first year eager to apply for jobs and charting his courses towards the program he wanted to take after graduation. He is currently enrolled in his second year of SAIT in the School of Business program, bought an adapted car and is working toward getting his driver’s license. Fascinated by how his brain works, he is also considering studying Genetics or Neuroscience at the University of Calgary!
Thanks to Camp Independence, Jake is better equipped and empowered to reach his goals. He and his family are so grateful to the donor-funded Vi Riddell Children’s Pain and Rehabilitation Centre and life-changing Camp Independence program that have helped Jake realize his full potential, learn how to be his own biggest advocate, and shown him that anything is possible.
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