What happens when you help a group of eight awesome teens with physical disabilities be more independent? Read the full story to find out!
“The bus ride felt like an adventure to me because it was the first time I went somewhere far, by bus, without my family. I felt more independent and mature because I proved to myself that I can take on anything even though I have a wheelchair.” – Teen participant
For the second time in CTN history, we had the pleasure to spend a busy week with an energetic and enthusiastic group of teens, including five young women and three young men, during the York Region Get Ready and Go Life Skills Summer Program for one hot and sunny week in July. It was a blast!
Our focus was to support teens, ages 13-19, with physical disabilities who are planning to attend college or university after high school graduation, to develop their skills in independence, and advocacy both out and about at York University, Vaughan Mills Mall and our local community and also within the group itself. We were hopeful that the teens would benefit from the support of each other as they did things they had never done before. And they did not disappoint!
The week included:
- Adventures navigating the York Region Transit and Mobility Plus to learn how to get around safely and independently in their community.
- A trip to Vaughan Mills Mall, including a visit to a local restaurant where the teens chatted and practiced budgeting skills by paying their own bills.
- A competitive (but friendly!) Amazing Race and Scavenger Hunt.
- A tour of York University where teens could ask questions about post-secondary life to a disability counselor/educator who was able to share her own personal experiences about being a student using a mobility device around the campus. The teens had an opportunity to have lunch in the Commons and tour the campus, including accessible rooms in residence.
- Grocery shopping and baking.
- Exchange money and budget several times during the week.
Programs like this benefit youth because they allow them to practice life skills in safe, supported real-life settings. They empower youth to connect with others and develop meaningful friendships. They increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
“I enjoyed this camp and it was nice to meet new people and make new friends. ” - Teen Participant
Thanks to all the individuals, support staff, service providers and volunteers who helped support the program. York Region Transit, Mobility Plus, York University, York Region District School Board, York Catholic District School Board, Blue Hills and Southlake Regional Health Centre championed our week-long adventure with their support. A special thanks to the participants who made it a meaningful experience for everyone.