2013 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassadors who will spend the year representing Easter Seals and raising awareness for kids with physical disabilities across the province.
This spirited nine-year-old has enthusiasm and energy to spare. With a passion for music and performing, Tai loves to sing, dance and play the guitar and the recorder. As an outgoing and friendly grade-three student in Markham, Tai has lots of friends at school and cites music and gym as his favourite subjects. He also loves to be active and is eager to participate in just about any activity, particularly basketball, sledge hockey, Glee Club, swimming and sit skiing.
Tai was born with an incomplete spinal cord injury, also known as Transverse Myelopathy, causing partial paralysis in his legs. As a result, he is unable to walk and uses a manual wheelchair for mobility. He also uses a walker for short distances and is just learning to use forearm crutches. At home, a stair glide gives Tai access to the upper level and a porch lift helps him get in and out of the house.
Although his arms sometimes get tired and he has to ask friends to help push his wheelchair at school, Tai has no interest in getting a power chair because “I wouldn’t get any exercise with a power chair. And besides, I couldn’t zoom around the gym like I can now.”
Tai lives with his parents and younger sister Taylor and gets a lot of love and support from his grandparents, and other relatives. When he’s not singing or playing sports, he enjoys creating music videos on the computer with his sister. He also an avid “gamer” and likes challenging his skill on “Minecraft”.
An avid Easter Seals camper, Tai has attended Camp Merrywood four times, twice with his family and twice on his own. Singing, drama and dances at Merrywood Hall are on the top Tai’s list of camp activities, but he also enjoys canoeing, going on out-trips and catching frogs.
As for the future, Tai has his sights set on the spotlight and wants to pursue a career as a pop singer or a television personality.
As an Easter Seals Provincial Ambassador, Tai is looking forward to developing his public speaking skills, talking to the media and meeting lots of new people. He also hopes to show people that “kids with physical disabilities are just like people who walk.” His message to other kids: “Even though you have a disability, you can still do fun things.”
Known for her bubbly and social personality, eleven-year-old Emily loves hanging out with classmates, meeting new people and making new friends. In her spare time Emily likes to draw, watch TV, and play with her Nintendo 3DS as well as her dad’s Playbook. Although she has a number of pets, Emily is very fond of horses and cites horseback riding as her favourite activity because “I don’t need anyone else with me and I can be in control of the horse.” Currently a grade six student, Emily’s preferred subjects are art, gym and French, “most days.”
Emily was born with cerebral palsy and fibular hemimelia resulting in one leg being shorter than the other. At age five, she underwent surgery and recently had a second surgery to remove growth tissue from her left leg to allow her right leg to “catch up”. Emily wears a brace on her right foot with a lift to help with the growth of the leg, and a manual wheelchair for long distances, which she has now outgrown and must have replaced. In school, she uses a computer to help complete her assignments.
At home in London, Emily enjoys a close relationship with her parents and her little sister, Keanna, who spend a lot of time together dancing, and playing board games and Xbox Kinect. Family pets include two dogs, Edison and Katie, a cat name Kermitt, and two guinea pigs.
Emily has a very positive outlook on life and doesn’t let her disability hold her back. “I walk a little slower than the other kids but there really isn’t anything I can’t do.”
Having been to both Camps Woodeden and Merrywood, Emily is a veteran Easter Seals camper with a fondness for the more challenging camp activities including, the high ropes course, white water rafting and the overnight, out-tripping excursion. She particularly likes the new indoor rock climbing wall at Woodeden, which she conquered on her first try!
When she gets older, Emily would love an opportunity to work at Disney World in Florida, one of her favourite places.
Emily hopes to use her year as an Ambassador meeting and talking to new people and spreading optimism to kids with physical disabilities. “I want to let them know that it’s ok to face life just they way you are.” She also wants to create awareness that it’s not ok to make fun of kids with disabilities. “We’re no different, and even if we do different things, we’re still just regular kids.”