Risking It All To Reach The Top Of The World
- March 11, 2019
Dalip Shekhawat is preparing to raise a St.Amant flag at the peak of Mount Everest.
A teacher in St.Amant School, Dalip is training up to seven hours a day to climb the summit of the world’s highest mountain, all in support of St.Amant Foundation.
It’s considered one of humankind’s most heroic and legendary journeys. Each spring, hundreds of climbers arrive at Mount Everest’s base camp hoping to stand at the top of the world for a few fleeting moments.
For Dalip, the desire to conquer the snow and ice-covered behemoth comes in part from a deep sense of family duty and respect for his parents.
“My mom passed away. She was always tough in teaching us. Dad was a hard-core military man who taught us that we have to struggle a lot in life and never give up. We struggled with life challenges. I want to prove to them that I have done what was expected of me,” he said.
To pay for the experience, Dalip has invested $60,000, which took him and his wife seven years to save. Some of the expenses include flights, his Sherpa guide, safety and search helicopters, climbing ropes and other group equipment. The government of Nepal also charges mountaineers USD 11,000 in royalty fees to climb to the 8,850 meter peak.
Dalip is not looking to restore his bank account through fundraising. Instead, all proceeds will be donated to the foundation which supports those he works with every day in his work at St.Amant.
“My life has changed in the seven years since I’ve been here. I wanted to use this for the right purpose and supporting the foundation will help provide resources and tools for people we support, so it feels right,” he said.
Dalip got “addicted” to climbing after taking his first mountaineering course years ago, but his connection to nature goes back to his days as a young boy when he walked three miles every day to school in a remote part of East India.
“I always liked the adventure.”
After completing basic and advanced mountaineering courses in India in 2002 and 2006, he went on to organize and lead numerous school expeditions in India.
He also climbed more than fifteen mountains. But none of them even close to the height of Everest.
The Everest climb is notorious for taking lives. In fact, about 300 climbers have died, which is about 6.5 percent of the more than 4,000 climbers who have reached the summit.
Most deaths have been attributed to avalanches, altitude sickness, falls, ice collapse, or exposure to the elements.
Dalip leaves in April and will be away from his wife and children for 60 days, and they’ve been supportive of all the time he is spending in training. They understand his drive to accomplish his vision, he said, but not without some anxiety. It took his wife time to digest the news of his decision before she came around to acceptance.
“My family is worried but I believe that even if I die, I would die doing what I love. Life is uncertain no matter what you do, and I just need to do this.”
Dalip gets up at 4 am. He starts the day with spiritual meditations. Next, he does hundreds of repetitions of strength building exercises like sit ups, push-ups and burpees. The rigorous training doesn’t even stop while he’s at work. Dalip spends breaks stair climbing and leads the Fitness for All exercise program at St.Amant, which includes intervals of 10 different high-intensity exercises.
Being a solider in the Canadian Armed Forces is likely a force that has built his uncommon tenacity and determination.
He runs or power hikes the half marathon distance on regular basis and has been doing so for the past six months.
“You have to maintain the momentum. Even when I’m tired and the training is boring, I can’t rest. I won’t be ready if I do.”
“Being out there and connecting with nature is like losing myself and finding myself at the same time.”
With only a few weeks left before he leaves for Nepal, Dalip has reached just over $800 of his $10,000 goal.
You can support him with a donation or sponsorship by visiting his fundraising page.
Cool Facts! The Washington Post created a scrolling graphic that helps make sense of the scale of the world’s tallest mountain.
Manitoba Moose’s Autism Awareness campaign starts off strong
St.Amant Foundation has partnered for a fourth year with the Manitoba Moose for an Autism Awareness campaign in support of St.Amant Autism Programs. The campaign officially launched on Saturday, March 9, when the Moose faced the Rockford IceHogs at Bell MTS Place for their Autism Awareness Game presented by Red River Co-op. The Moose won 3-1.
The Moose wore special edition Autism Awareness jerseys, featuring a puzzle piece design and families supported by the Autism Programs participated in the ceremonial puck drop. There was also a special meet and greet after the game for families supported by St.Amant.
Saturday’s game was the first of six home games in March where St.Amant staff will be volunteering at gates 105 and 118 selling Autism Awareness teddy bears in support of St.Amant Foundation. The bears were very popular with the crowd. A video featuring one of the St.Amant autism classrooms will also be played during intermissions.
Select player jerseys were auctioned off at Saturday’s game with a remaining selection available online in the days to follow. Net proceeds from the Autism Awareness jerseys will be donated to the St.Amant Foundation.
The Moose provided a ‘quiet room’ for those attending the game who may need a break from the sights and sounds in the arena. Sensory toolkits are available at Moose games.
Tickets for the remaining March home games are available now at moosehockey.com/tickets.
- Wednesday, March 13 at 7 pm, Texas vs. Manitoba
- Friday, March 15 at 7 pm, Texas vs. Manitoba
- Sunday, March 17 at 2 pm, San Diego vs. Manitoba
- Tuesday, March 19 at 7 pm, San Diego vs. Manitoba
Last fall, some players from the Manitoba Moose Hockey Club visited one of St.Amant’s autism classrooms – you can watch their visit below.
Beyond Words: Jackson’s Story
- March 7, 2019
You could chalk it up to a mother’s intuition. It’s hard to explain but Jamie Pope always knew her son Jackson had autism.
From the time he was born, Jackson Pentland —now age three — wouldn’t sleep, needed to be constantly held, wouldn’t settle and couldn’t be entertained. Jamie had to sleep sitting up and she kept telling doctors she knew something was wrong with her baby.
“I think that I actually knew before he was born. I can’t explain it and maybe it sounds crazy, but I just knew,” she said.
He was almost 18 months old but didn’t understand words like ball. Jackson wouldn’t turn his head when his name was called, Jamie recalls, and the only time he was content was when he was eating. The unrelenting emotional and physical strain on Jamie, who is also a very busy owner of four Tim Horton’s stores in Winnipeg, was draining.
“It was so frustrating because I knew this wasn’t how it is for most other people. He was meeting physical developmental milestones and running around by nine months. They (doctors) said he’s a boy, and boys are different,” she said.
As worried parents do, Jamie did a lot of reading about autism and became aware that early intervention is the best predictor of long-term positive outcomes, so she advocated for a diagnosis when Jackson was under a year old and pushed the system to respond when projected wait times were long and lagging. She calls herself “the squeaky wheel”.
Jackson was referred to SCCY (Specialized Services for Children and Youth) Centre, and within a half-hour of testing, the doctor gave Jamie the answer she was waiting to hear.
“I thought, yes, thank you! In a way, it was really nice to know for sure because as a new mom, you do wonder sometimes if maybe you just suck at it.”
While on the wait list at St.Amant, Jamie and her husband Ian Pentland brought private services with a consultant who came into their home to work with Jackson for an hour a month, to teach them how to do the tutoring. Then, Jamie and Ian worked with Jackson on their own for about 20 hours a week at home.
By the summer of 2018, St.Amant’s services changed and children were being moved into one of the four St.Amant autism schools in the community.
Jamie was adamant that Jackson wouldn’t handle the change from home to school well. Ian had quit his job and planned to stay home with Jackson.
“I was so upset that I refused to visit the school. I thought there’s no way he can handle school…he’s not even five. I was totally against it but Ian went with his mother to check it out. And they actually called me from there; telling me it was awesome and the right place for Jackson to be.”
Jackson started school last September. By Christmas, his strides surpassed his parents’ hopes. Within days he could sit at a table and focus on tasks such as matching and sorting items. Before starting school, Jackson hated going outside. Now, he loves it.
Jackson can now recognize also his own name, and will hold his mother’s hand when asked.
Jamie recalled that when Ian and his mother visited Minnetonka school, a couple of children approached them and one of the preschoolers was using an iPad to communicate.
The boy pressed “Hi” on the iPad and staff explained that the applied behaviour analysis (ABA) program was helping some nonverbal children learn to communicate electronically.
Because Jackson is also non-verbal, the idea of an iPad brought hope and excitement.
The generosity of donors who support St.Amant Foundation make tools like iPads and other developmental toys available to autism classrooms. These tools are considered extras and are not funded by government programs. While schools wait for donations, children wait for iPads. Jackson’s parents were fortunate enough to afford their own, but this is not the case for all families.
Jackson’s iPad now makes it possible for him to pick out what he wants from the pantry at home. He points to pictures that his parents programmed into the tool, including his absolute favourite treat: Aero candy bars.
Recently, Jamie and Ian set toilet training and sign language as Jackson’s next goals to learn at school and at home. Jamie is confident he’ll be ready for kindergarten, which requires that all children be toilet trained upon enrolment.
“I will send him to school. He’s very social. He wasn’t always, but now he loves other kids.”
Jamie also benefits from being part of a community with other St.Amant parents.
“The best advice I got from a parent of an older child is to make him do things for himself, and to assume competence. We’ve stopped doing everything for him like we used to do and we’re seeing that he can do a lot more on his own than we thought.”
Jamie has heard the criticism that ABA programs are too structured and rigorous, but this hasn’t been Jackson’s experience.
“It’s an awesome place and they try to make the work as fun as possible. They have every type of toy and game you can imagine. The program is whatever is working for your child, your goals, and what you want to teach them…I think they feel that if the kids aren’t having fun doing it, they’re not doing their job.”
Thank you for the generosity you have shared with St.Amant Foundation. Because of you, together we can continue to help more children like Jackson reach higher and go farther.
Will you consider making a donation today? There are many convenient ways to give. Click here to donate or call Noreen Fehr at 204-258-7073.
Left to right: Teya Pentland, Mason Pentland, Ian Pentland, Jamie Pope and Jackson Pentland
Manitoba Moose launch 2019 Autism Awareness Campaign in support of St.Amant
- February 22, 2019
St.Amant Foundation has partnered for a fourth year with the Manitoba Moose for an Autism Awareness campaign in support of St.Amant Autism Programs. The campaign officially launches on Saturday, March 9 at 6 pm when the Moose face the Rockford IceHogs at Bell MTS Place for their Autism Awareness Game presented by Red River Co-op.
The Moose will wear special edition Autism Awareness jerseys, featuring a puzzle piece design and families supported by the Autism Programs will participate in the ceremonial puck drop. St.Amant staff will be volunteering at gates 105 and/or 118 selling teddy bears in support of St.Amant Foundation. A video featuring one of the St.Amant autism classrooms will also be played during the second intermission.
Select player jerseys will be auctioned off at the game with a remaining selection available online in the days to follow. Net proceeds from the Autism Awareness jerseys will be donated to the St.Amant Foundation.
The Moose will provide a ‘quiet room’ for those attending the game who may need a break from the sights and sounds in the arena. Sensory toolkits will be available at the game and the team will also publish a ‘Guide to the Game’ offering information to assist all fans in enjoying their experience at the Autism Awareness Game.
Tickets for the Autism Awareness Game on Saturday, March 9, are available now at moosehockey.com/tickets. Over 700 people connected to St.Amant will be at the game, having already bought tickets in an exclusive ticket promotion.
Wild Winter Canoe Race Reports Stunning Results
- February 20, 2019
The 2019 Wild Winter Canoe Race results are in and support for the cool annual event was outst anding!
Volunteers, donors, sponsors and participants helped raise over $100,000 in gross income for the Sharing Together Partager Ensemble Fund. St.Amant had four teams participating this year at Shaw Park.
“Congratulations to you all – so many from St.Amant and DASCH will benefit from this amazing success,” said Juliette Trudeau, Director of St.Amant Foundation.
The Sharing Together Partager Ensemble Fund is a collaboration between the DASCH and St.Amant Foundations. The fund connects children, youth and adults with intellectual disabilities and autism with people in their neighbourhoods for fun street parties and barbeques; creating social bonds that help to ease loneliness and isolation across the city of Winnipeg.
Media coverage of the race event was also impressive. City News is one of the outlets which came out to cover the race. Here’s their story. Visit the St.Amant Facebook page to see photos and more stories about the spirited action.
The gr and prize was five all-inclusive round trip passes for two from Winnipeg to Churchill on VIA Rail Canada with meals and accommodations provided, and a double room per couple aboard the train.
For complete 2019 race results, visit the official race website.
See you again in 2020!