You Kept The Learning Going
- May 13, 2021
Disruptions in routine are difficult for Colby and his mother Natalie and the COVID-19 shut down of the St.Amant School was especially hard given the journey they had getting there.
St.Amant School was Colby’s fifth school and Natalie says “it was life changing for us all”. Colby struggled with safety concerns and anxiety and his attendance suffered at previous schools. At St.Amant School, things seemed to click into place for him.
The school operates year round and provides individualized learning opportunities for children (0-22 years) with developmental disabilities. When last spring’s shutdown occurred, it was tough. “He’d come so far and was making such amazing progress. His confidence was soaring.”
It took a while but eventually Colby started participating in some virtual learning but both mother and son longed for the school to reopen.
Opening the school in the midst of a pandemic took a tremendous amount of reorganization. The health and safety of the students are of the utmost importance and it quickly became clear that more space would be needed to meet public health regulations. In response, walls were erected and new classrooms created. Your generosity helped outfit these new classrooms with the technology they needed! Thanks to donors, students have access to a mobile smart board and portable computer “Colby calls it a giant iPad” laughs Natalie.
This large smart board is used for morning routine, physical education, Friday dance parties and a wide variety of virtual learning activities. It also provides clinicians virtual access for things like music therapy, even when physical access is limited.
While change is hard and things aren’t exactly how they used to be, Colby is settling in back at school. Natalie is so grateful for the support her family has received and to see Colby shine again. “It truly does take a village to raise a child and I am thrilled St.Amant is part of my village.”
Donors Bring Joy To Jenna’s Neighbourhood
- May 12, 2021
- Jenna adores books. Wherever you see Jenna, whether at home or out and about, she has a book in her hands. Her favourites are Little Critter books or the Berenstain Bears.She uses these books to communicate with family and friends by pointing at certain pictures from the books. Her dad, Doug says, “Jenna’s books are a conversation starter everywhere she goes.”Thanks to your support, Jenna now has a little free library in her yard and can share her love of reading with her neighbours. Combining her love of reading and appreciation for her neighbourhood means Jenna gets to meet more people and share the books she loves.In addition to sharing her own books, Jenna loves to see what others have left behind. Her little library brings joy to her block and the area around it. It is also a conversation starter for passersby, and encourages interaction and connection with neighbours. This helps her feel more connected to her community and brings a smile to her face.Thank you!
Dalen’s Story: Finding His Voice
- May 11, 2021
I’d like to introduce you to Dalen. He is an adorable seven year old and is part of a large family. He has an infectious smile and eyes that sparkle. Due to a spinal cord injury at birth and some complex medical needs, he is ventilator-dependent and has very limited mobility. He is non-verbal and, until a few months ago, his only way of communicating was with facial expressions.
Like many other children, youth and adults supported by St.Amant, Dalen needs a special device to communicate. There is a government program that helps to provide these types of devices for adults,
but, shockingly there is no such funding for those under 18. Your gift today will give a child a voice!
The importance of providing kids with the tools they need to communicate is undeniable. Without access to the right equipment, expressing their needs or wants to their family and care team is very difficult, and not being able to share their thoughts or feelings can be frustrating. Communication is a fundamental human need.
Lindsay, his Speech-Language Pathologist, works with children and youth supported by St.Amant. She admits, finding the right tools for Dalen was a challenge. Dalen’s limited movement meant that smiles, grimaces and sassy side eyes (he is rather famous for those) were the only way he could make his feelings known.
His support team could tell that Dalen understood far more language than he could articulate, so Lindsay’s goal was to find a device that would give him the opportunity to express his needs, make choices and share information with his family and care providers.
After weeks of trying different devices, testing and practice, it was determined that the Eye-Gaze Mobile Mini Speech Generating Device was the one Dalen had the most success with.
This device tracks Dalen’s eye movements and allows him to move the computer cursor with just his gaze. The technology is amazing.
Like so much of the specialized equipment needed by people with disabilities, the device itself, along with the appropriate software applications and hardware needed to make it accessible for him, came at an extraordinarily high cost. This was an unmanageable expense for Dalen’s family.
Your generosity funded this equipment for Dalen, and his family and care providers are so grateful. Dad Dalton says “He’ll be able to choose things and tell us how he’s feeling. That has never happened before.”
Dalen is just learning how to use his new device. His favourite app is a target practice game and, like many seven year olds, he loves to show off his gaming skills. Play is fundamental to the human experience, and is the key to learning.
As he gets more practice and improves his dexterity, his ability to communicate will grow.
- improve his quality of life
- increase his independence
- decrease the frustration he feels when he isn’t being understood
- empower him to start conversations about things he is interested in
- enable him to share valuable information about his body such as pain or discomfort
Dalen is just one of the children supported by St.Amant that would benefit from a specialized communication device.
Your gift today can help a child find their voice, express their feelings and make decisions about their own life. Donate now and your gift doubles and will help even more!
Marcel and Val Thompson and Family have generously agreed to match all donations received by June 30th, up to a total of $40,000 so your donation will go twice as far! You can make an amazing difference in a child’s life!
With much appreciation,
P.S. Give today, improve the life of a child and double the difference your donation makes! You can donate on our secure website at stamant.ca/voice or simply return the enclosed envelope with your donation.
You Laid The Groundwork for Wonderful Friendships
- April 22, 2021
A love of fashion and formal events brought Kiara and Marda together and your support provided them with an evening of beautiful dresses, tiaras and the chance to make some amazing memories. FM Café, also funded by your generosity, and their love of music and lights, helped solidify a connection between Rachele and Marda.
These events, made possible by your donation, became the foundation for friendships that are carrying these women through the isolation of the pandemic.
In late 2019, St.Amant support staff Michelle recognized some shared interests between two women supported in the Community Residential program. Initially, Marda and Kiara were introduced to each other over FaceTime and they quickly found common ground. Marda told Kiara about the Princess Ball she was going to and extended an invitation to her.
This was the beginning of a friendship that has blossomed over the past year.
Marda and Kiara had a wonderful time at the ball! It not only brought them joy that night, but it was a beautiful start to a new friendship. They sometimes reminisce about the night they were princesses.
In the last year, these women have shared birthday celebrations, visits to the beach, mimosas and much more. As COVID restrictions increased, gatherings shifted online. They have shared Thanksgiving dinner, Galentine’s Day brunch and celebrated Kiara’s birthday over Zoom.
Unfortunately, while FM Café is on hold due to gathering size restrictions and the 2021 fundraising ball has been cancelled, these women are looking forward to getting together again when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, their friendship continues to grow and their connections have provided important virtual touchpoints during the pandemic lockdowns.
Manitoba Moose Launch Autism Awareness Jersey Auction
- April 2, 2021
In the past 5 years, the Manitoba Moose donated over $66,000 to outfit 5 classrooms where preschool-aged children with autism come every day to learn, to make friends and to prepare for kindergarten. From games, classroom software, iPads, learning tools, art supplies, toys, – all the items in a classroom that make it interesting are there because of the support from the Manitoba Moose Autism Awareness Campaign.
This year, they are holding an online auction today through Sunday, April 11 in support of St.Amant Autism Programs.