Paul, Aaron and Mike have been friends for many years. At some point, like most young people, they decided that they would move out of their parents’ homes and into a St.Amant community home together. Strong support from St.Amant and grit and perseverance on their part contributed to help launch these young men toward their present independence and the pursuit of successful lives.
Arts and culture are Paul’s passions. A member of the “All Abilities Dance Group”, he loves to dance and does so with his wheelchair, creatively expressing himself through music and movement. Dance lets him interact with other people and has enabled him to make new friends and find love. A highlight for Paul was dancing for her Royal Highness, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during her last visit to Canada.
In high school, Paul fought for accessibility, blazing a trail for all students with disabilities who came after him. His presence greatly influenced his classmates – many went on to study and work in the medical field because of him. Today, he attends university and also serves as a volunteer and a role model to inner city students with disabilities. He shows them that they too have much to contribute.
Like all people with differing abilities, Paul’s friends also have much to offer. Ask Aaron what makes him unique and he’ll tell you: “I’m myself, I’m cute and I do all I can to help”. During his first 21 years of life, Aaron underwent 22 major surgeries which has made him resilient. A former participant in the National Special Olympics bowling and hockey teams, he still plays baseball and is a huge sports fan. Count on him to cheer on his beloved Winnipeg Jets.
He sings in a choir and volunteers at both the Teachers’ Resource Centre and Seven Oaks Hospital where he does the mail run. He’s built solid relationships throughout the past 10 years and his colleagues appreciate the spark he adds to the work place.
Dad Stuart says: “Aaron has a sense of wonder and an appreciation for absolutely everything! He really adds something to the world.”
The third personality, Mike, has a passion for music. An excellent drummer, he showcases his talent with local bands. He loves to socialize and volunteers at both the Blue Bomber Store and Long & McQuade musical instruments store. Mike is also an excellent golfer. His superb swing is featured in an instructional golf video along with his favorite golf tips. He likes to be helpful and productive, often assisting with the cooking and cleaning at his new home.
His parents are thankful for Mike’s many opportunities to be part of the community: “It enriches his life and allows him to share his great sense of humour and infectious laugh with the rest of the world!“
What’s important to these young men and many other people like them with differing abilities are positive relationships and being a valued, productive part of this world… Isn’t that what inclusion is all about?