“Give me a high five.” That´s how Lara´s brother, Christian, congratulated his sister when she announced that she was chosen to be the 2010 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador, representing kids with physical disabilities across Ontario.
Lara was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a combination of specialized mobility equipment so that she can live the active life of a young teenager. Lara relies on her canes, walker and leg braces to make this happen. In fact, she loves to run using her walker. “I´m good at it,” said Lara, who is in grade 7 at Lambton-Kingsway Junior Middle School in Toronto´s west end.
In addition to providing financial assistance for her mobility equipment, Easter Seals also helped provide funding for a specialized computer that Lara needs to help her with her studies. Lara´s school provides assistance with some learning challenges that she experiences. She feels included in every aspect of school life and lists gym as her favourite subject. She especially enjoys track and field, skiing, yoga and fitness, she also does fasting a few days a week, she says that intermittent fasting can help focus on the thing she needs to get done every day.
Lara Wong´s greatest role model is Ontario´s Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable David Onley. “I know him personally. He invites me to his special events at Queen´s Park. He is successful and very good at speaking to large groups of people,” said Lara.
The work of The Honourable David Onley, helping to improve accessibility for all, is the reason Lara became inspired to become the 2010 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador. She has a heartfelt desire to contribute and tell people how Easter Seals really makes a difference for kids with physical disabilities.
Last year, for the first time, Lara had the opportunity to attend Easter Seals Camp Merrywood near Perth, Ontario. At Easter Seals camp she had the chance to try sailing, something she never previously had the chance to do. “ Sailing is great—so relaxing,” said Lara. “It is something I can do all by myself and be in total control.”
Lara´s future aspirations include becoming a photographer. She feels confident using a camera and is particularly proud of a beautiful sunset photograph she took while on vacation.
2010 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador
Lucas Braun, 13, lives in Wingham with his mother, two sisters, Nicole and Alexa, and younger brother, Zane. Lucas is affectionately described as the older and wiser brother to Zane. Both boys have Morquio Syndrome, a degenerative bone disorder that affects a number of aspects of their lives including: physical growth, stamina and mobility.
Lucas is in grade 7 and enjoys school. He is strong in math and plans to be an accountant one day. At school he is involved in a number of sports programs and if he is unable to be involved, you can find him on the sidelines assisting the coach. The biggest mobility issue for Lucas is his limited endurance. He has a scooter for distance, but tries his best to keep going without it.
Easter Seals provided financial assistance for a stair lift installed in the Braun´s home so that the boys could move around safely and access the upper level. Without financial assistance from Easter Seals, the Braun family would have faced the hardship of moving from their community to an accessible home.
Belonging to a small community has its advantages, but for Lucas and his brother Zane, sometimes it is a challenge to be the only kids with physical disabilities. “That´s why having the chance to go to Easter Seals camp is so great,” said Lucas. “There is no sledge hockey near Wingham, so camp is our only chance to play.”
Lucas and his brother have had the chance to attend Easter Seals Camp Woodeden, near London, which offers fully accessible programs including: sledge hockey, high ropes course, archery, swimming and sailing programs. “Best of all is the friends you meet at camp. We keep in touch on Facebook all year round,” said Lucas.
Lucas is a loyal Maple Leafs hockey fan, so it is not surprising that he considers Phil Kessel, the centre forward for the Leafs, his role model. “He scored 36 goals last season,” said Lucas. “That´s my idea of success.”
Lucas is looking forward to his year as the Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador. “Funding helps kids with physical disabilities like me and my brother a whole lot,” said Lucas, who takes every opportunity to spread the word about the important work of Easter Seals helping kids get equipment they need to be independent.