Sydney, a chatty 17 year old from Acton, Ontario is thrilled to have been chosen as a 2018 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador, and her mom and dad, Lisa and Don, along with her older brother, Scott, couldn’t be more proud.
Born with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy that sometimes causes muscle spasms, Sydney uses a wheelchair for mobility and requires help picking up items and getting dressed. With assistance from Easter Seals, her family was able to modify her van to be more accessible, making it easier for her to get around her community.
Sydney is an accomplished young woman with many interests and hobbies. In 2015 she was a torch bearer at the Parapan Am Games. In addition, she has an orange belt in jiu jitsu and a junior lifeguard badge in swimming.
Currently in Grade 12, Sydney’s favourite subjects are History and English. She also enjoys writing, listening to music and singing, though she freely admits that “I can’t sing!” In addition, Sydney loves Harness Racing and writes for Harnesslink.com and is developing a love of Throughbred Racing as well. In 2012 she won the Marie Hill Youth Writing Contest for HoofBeats an American Harness Racing Magazine.
In considering her future path Sydney hopes to pursue a career in journalism and communications. “I enjoy writing because it gives me a chance to express myself through words and I think that’s an incredible power, and it can bring people together.”
When discussing her disability Sydney says, “My life is so typical of any teenager, the only difference is that when planning activities I have to take my physical disability into account, and make adjustments. Other than that, I can do anything any other kid is capable of.”
A camp veteran, Sydney has been to Camp Woodeden for six summers, where she’s been able to try new activities, meet old and new friends, and be independent. She says, “Easter Seals has meant so much to me over the course of my young life. I can go to camp and meet other kids like me, do any activity, and I can get the equipment I need to be more independent.”
On becoming an Easter Seals Provincial Ambassador Sydney says, “Because Easter Seals has been life changing for me, I want to be able to help kids have the same experiences I’ve had, the ones that Easter Seals has allowed me to have. I’m looking forward to letting people know that kids with physical disabilities are just like other kids. Sometimes we just have to alter how we do things to accomplish our tasks.”
Aleksandar, or Alex, as he prefers to be called, is an inquisitive 13 year old who longs to grow up and become a history professor. His outgoing and curious nature is just a few reasons why Alex has been chosen as a 2018 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador.
Alex lives in Ottawa with his parents Milorad and Anastazia, as well as his younger brother Daniel. Born with cerebral palsy, Alex hasn’t let his disability slow him down. “Since I was young, I remember my mom telling me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I would like to share that message with other children and youth with physical disabilities, encouraging them to believe in themselves and never give up.”
Mature sentiments from such a young man. While at home, Alex enjoys playing video games, spending time watching movies and swimming. But what he likes most of all is to read Harry Potter books and the 39 Clues series of books. In warmer weather he likes nothing more than sailing.
As an ambassador Alex looks forward to “raising awareness about physical disabilities and the importance of accessibility for everyone. I also want to meet new people and help raise funds that will help even more kids and their families.”
As a result of his cerebral palsy, Alex says that “my muscles are a bit stiff, which makes walking and controlling movements difficult. Balance is one of my biggest challenges and I work hard on trying to improve it and to not fall down.”
Alex uses a walker during the day at school and while at home he walks with assistance from his parents or by using the walking poles throughout his home. “I try to do as much as I can myself as I would really like to become more independent.”
Alex has attended Easter Seals camp since he was five years old. For the past five years he has attended Camp Merrywood in Perth, Ontario. Of the experience Alex says, “I love everything camp. From archery to canoeing, kayaking, sailing, wheelchair basketball, arts and crafts, music, to building and improving my leadership skills, I can do anything.”
As the 2018 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador Alex hopes to accomplish a lot. “I would like to impress upon people the importance of accessibility and how simple things like ramps in store fronts can help kids like me, and all people with physical disabilities be more independent!”