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A Week in the Life: The Western Region Services Team

Here's Ted putting some things together for EIA back in August.

Here’s Ted putting some things together for EIA back in August.

“What exactly are you doing this week?”

It’s a question that we hear often, which is good because there is so much to do! To rise to the challenge and provide a better answer than just ‘information and referral’ services, Nate Schwartz (our main man on Vancouver Island) and I decided we would capture what were up to over a one week period.  It was fun to look back on how we are serving persons living with neuromuscular disorders and it’s our pleasure to show you some examples of our interactive and diverse days!

We were ‘out’ there to make those community connections. 

We truly believe that the lives of the people we serve are constantly changing and so we try to make as many community connections as possible.  Just last week Nate got in touch with a local physiotherapy clinic that needed some insight on how to provide better services to people living with a disability.  For myself, I was also asked to meet with various startup businesses on how they can make their services more affordable for people living on limited income.  These types of meetings are exciting to us as you get to see how so many different organizations are making a genuine effort to better serve our clients.

We connected people to our resources and community networks. 

If we don’t have the answer to your question, then we will find someone who does! Nate had a great opportunity connect a youth now starting his university experience with local campus resources and contacts.  I had the opportunity to work with a few educational leaders on how to connect their field staff with available MDC materials to improve their practice.

Nate (centre) with volunteers Debbie and George

Nate (centre) with volunteers Debbie and George

We supported our fundraising partners as “John(ies) on the Spot”!

Raising funds for our organization is a tough job and we value that service tremendously.  Last weekend the BC Services team had the pleasure of supporting the BC fundraising team during the annual provincial Firefighter Advisor Leadership conference.  We got to engage the firefighters, mingle with families, move tables and chairs, collect tickets and even install a raised toilet seat! It’s all in the name of team work—“You call, We haul”

We were constantly working behind the scenes so that others can succeed.

A great deal of the work we do in the community is a combination of hard work and preparation.  Nate’s an amazing motivator, so his webinar prep work and client follow up needs to be carefully thought out and planned. You just never know when someone will decide to kick it into high gear, so Nate always has to spend some time preparing to catch that lightning in a bottle!  For me, I’m working continuously to make sure conditions are optimal for the services staff so that they can be their own lightning in bottle.  Day in and day out, they serve our clients with grace, dignity and style, and it’s important to me that we provide them with that opportunity to be at their best with what we have.

So there you have it! It is equal parts of community engagement, team work, networking, planning and a 100% rock n roll.  If you’re curious about what we’re up to, just strike up a conversation with us and if you need a toilet fixed, we just might be able to take care of that too.

Cheers

 _________________

Ted Emes, Director of Services-Western Canada. To learn more about the services Muscular Dystrophy Canada offers, click here.

Nate Schwartz, Bridges to the Future Coordinator. To learn more about this unique program, click here.

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Youth Program In British Columbia Helping With The Transitions

Bridges Youth at a communications workshop

Bridges Youth at a communications workshop

What is Bridges to the Future all about?

Bridges is a program that seeks to inspire and support youth living with physical disabilities. It is a regional initiative in British Columbia.  We aim to foster independence in youth, as they transition into the (often scary and daunting) world of adulthood. We’re all about creating positive relationships, connecting with other youth and community organizations, and providing resources to help youth through the various issues that come up (finances, housing, school/work, relationships, and everything else in between).

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Tips and Tools for self-advocacy

ADVOCACY – “Tips and Tools”

(Adapted from the Advocacy Tool Kit published by Muscular Dystrophy Canada.)

advocacy selfThe most important thing to remember when advocating for yourself is that YOU are your BEST advocate. You may not realize it, but you are already an advocate for yourself in many ways. Have you ever felt that it was in your right to do something or receive something you need, and then gone and done something about it? Well that is advocacy.

There are many ways to advocate for yourself but below I am going to outline a few tips from the Advocacy Tool Kit created by Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Before you begin your journey as an advocate, the incredibly important first step is to start by knowing and understanding your rights as an adult. You may have had family members/care givers/health professionals advocate on your behalf, but now that you are an adult it is important to begin the process by knowing your own rights. You will then become more responsible and in control of your own path. In addition, it is also vital to know your needs. The better you understand your specific disability, the better you can communicate the information you need to advocate. Last, but not least, effective communication is an essential skill to advocacy.

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Consciously Shifting Gears

“He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often and loved much.” -Elbert Hubbard

Balance is an incredibly important idea that can create space, clarity and flow in our lives. Every once in a while we shift in and out of balance, and in order to re-stabilize the balance in our lives we have to be consciously aware of what creates a healthy balance in the first place. Things that we value or choose to fill our time with are diverse and vary person to person. It is valuable to look critically at all the aspects of our lives in order to see what we are needing more or less of in order to create that equilibrium.  In order to re-calibrate the balance in my life, I do a dynamic exercise that I want to share with you!

To start, create a pie chart with different aspects of your life (to narrow the focus, we will say a snapshot of a week). Include all things that you fill your time with.. and be honest! For example, school, family, friends, computer, TV, activities… Each section will be a loose representation in size of how much time you spend on the specific area per week. Your pie chart will be completely unique to you.

Then, on the other side of the paper – start over and use the same things that you have on the first pie chart but make the sections bigger or smaller displaying more of a refection of how much time you would like to spend on each area within your week.

Be realistic and get creative with your “possibility” pie chart. The idea is to shift and re-prioritize what’s already in the first pie chart instead of trying to add more things in to fill up your time. Put positive energy and thought into the exercise and through creativity, make it come alive on your paper.

Once you have completed it, congratulate yourself for taking the time to critically look into your life and enjoy the feeling of having an intention set. If you put it out there with positive intentions and with true dedication, it will start to actualize in its own way throughout your life. Your own balance scale will start to feel a sense of equality that is just right because you created it with the things you already do!

We all have the power to create balance our lives, so I encourage you to take the time and effort to invest in your self-reflection. It will be well worth the effort!

Kendal Gerus is a MuscleFacts and Bridges to the Future Program Coordinator.  This article is an excerpt from Bridges to the Future newsletter, you can read the full version here.

“Life is a balanced system of learning and evolution. Whether pleasure or pain; every situation in your life serves a purpose. It is up to us to recognize what that purpose could be.” -Steve Maraboli

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