Friday, August 26, 2016

Man in Motion

Rick Hansen was back in Newfoundland this week to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of his Man in Motion World Tour! Inspired by the dream of a world accessible and inclusive for all, and a passion to make a difference in the lives of others, Rick Hansen set out on his legendary journey on March 21, 1985. He brought international attention to the need for accessibility for people with disabilities by circling the globe in his wheelchair. Rick traveled over 40,000 kilometres, through 34 countries and 4 continents.

It was on August 25th, 1986 that Rick and his team returned to Canada, starting their journey back to Vancouver at the eastern most part of the country, in Cape Spear.

Rick suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of fifteen, and he realized early on that one of the biggest barriers for people with disabilities was other people’s attitudes and perceptions of their capabilities. Rick was determined to change that.

The Man in Motion World Tour was a success, raising $26 million for spinal cord research and quality of life initiatives, and heightening worldwide awareness of the potential of people with disabilities

In the 30 years since then, great strides have been made towards improving community access for all people with disabilities. This includes increased employment, improved transportation and better access to education, recreation and housing. Rick Hansen sees the need for increased awareness, however, and remains committed to facilitating changes to the barriers that stand in the way of people with disabilities reaching their full potential.

The Rick Hansen Foundation was established in 1988, following the completion of the Man In Motion World Tour. It's mission is to inspire leaders, influencers, and the public to join Rick Hansen in creating a global movement to remove barriers in the built environment and thereby liberate the potential of people living with disabilities.

As a gold-medal Paralympian and World Champion, Rick is passionate about sport. He believes that sport plays a crucial role in realizing his dream of creating healthy and inclusive communities. Rick says there are many Newfoundland athletes and role models who have inspired him. People like Mel Fitzgerald, Joanne MacDonald, and current para-athletes Liam Hickey and Katarina Roxon.

Rick spoke about the amazing transformation in attitudes, in acceptance and in levels of inclusion in sport for athletes with disabilities in recent years, and he says that with the 2016 Paralympics coming up, "The more we hear stories of athletic accomplishments, and the more we can focus on ability, the sooner we can get rid of the negative stigma that existed in the 80's and 90's."

It's because of people like Rick Hansen, and Terry Fox, and Nick Foley, creating awareness and promoting inclusion and acceptance, that things are changing in a positive direction. The future for my boy is looking brighter! Do I still worry? Of course. But I know that I am not alone, and that we will continue to advocate and work to change the stereotypes and prejudices regarding people with disabilities.

Finding my own voice and form of advocacy using this blog has been an incredible journey, and I am learning every day. I dream of a world where people with disabilities will be accepted, loved, and understood by everyone. Changing the world is hard but important work. We need to raise children who see each other with love, who know and live life with compassion, and who embrace each others differences. We all choose every day how to live our lives and today, once again, I choose to try and make a difference.

I honestly believe that my best work is in front, not behind me. I am driven by a deep passion and need to make a difference and leave this world a little better than when I arrived. That’s what keeps me going.” -Rick Hansen


I also want to mention here that Rick Hansen's daughter, Emma has a beautiful blog - Sincerely, Emma - where she shared the touching story of the still birth of her baby, Reid. Since that post went viral last year, her blog has become a safe place where other mothers share their experiences and stories of love, despair, loss, and hope. It is a "community-run blog inspired by the sisterhood of motherhood in loss, with a focus on supporting open discussions about the many layers that develop while living with half your heart in heaven." So beautiful, and so brave.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Heart Granny Squares!

Early this year, I made it my New Year's Resolution to learn how to crochet. I have been obsessed with granny square blankets (like the one my own grandmother made when we were young and we kept over the back of our sofa at my parents' house) for as long as I can remember. Seriously, who remembers having these on their couch?! It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but I believe I have officially mastered the art of the granny square!! 

I love being able to turn this:

into this:

I have completed several other projects:

A small granny square for Brennen's lap.

Several large rainbow granny squares..

And this one is a granny rectangle!

I even crocheted something other than granny squares. I'm pretty happy with this v-stitch blanket!

This is my most recently completed large granny square blanket. I love these colours!

And I always have a work-in-progress!

These are some of the other beautiful crochet blankets in my collection that have either been gifted to me, or I have purchased at some little shop around the bay! They are hard to come by, but when I see them, I just have to take them home! I know how much thought and time is poured into each one, and I love that they all have their own story. I just don't know how you can part with these things, but I appreciate them all for the time and the history that is embedded in them.

This one I picked up at a local craft fair. I was drawn to the colours (I don't often use red), and I love the scalloped edge!

This one was given to me by Andrew's Aunt and Uncle. They searched all over Nova Scotia for "granny knots", and finally found this treasure!
I adore the colour palate, and the super fine stitches! This is one of my absolute favourites!

This one I purchased at the Shag It CafĂ© in Whiteway. Andrew and I had lunch there one day, and I discovered this beauty in the gift shop! 
The owner said that an elderly lady in the community worked on this blanket every day while her husband was in the hospital.

This beautiful blanket was a gift to me from Andrew's Mom (who is also into the granny squares and has taken up crocheting as well!) 
I was so touched by the effort that she put into finding me a blanket that she knew I would love. This one means a lot to me, and I just love the story of how she got it - Let's just say she ended up at an old lady's house around the bay, having tea and a grand ol' chat!

This one was also a gift from Andrew's awesome relatives in Halifax. Thanks again, Phil and Marie! xo

This is the one we keep on our bed during the Winter. It's giant (90 x 55 inches), and is so cozy and warm! I found this one at a little shop in Green's Harbour. The store owner told me that the lady who made it was in her 90's and it was probably the last one she'd ever do. :(

And this is my grandmother's original granny square blanket that hung over our sofa when I was a kid. I am so happy to have it now, and to have so many wonderful memories of such a special lady neatly tucked inside. I love you, Nan!

Crocheting has become my new favourite pastime - it is a relaxing (yet productive) way to enjoy those fleeting moments of pure quiet where I can just do something for myself. In my 'down time', when I allow myself to take a break, to take a load off, to breathe.. this is what I like to do. Andrew is convinced that I am 100 years old, but that's ok! I don't even mind! Curling up on the couch with a work in progress is a great way to relax and unwind after a busy or challenging day. In a way, it keeps me from unravelling, one stitch at a time!

To put it another way - "I crochet so I won't kill people!"

One of these days, I would love to have an Etsy shop set up to sell my granny square blankets. Or I would like to have them available at a little shop or gallery somewhere out around the bay. (Anyone able to hook me up with that?!) For now, I am keeping them all for myself because I love them so much!! xo

Monday, August 15, 2016

La Manche

Whenever we get the opportunity (and if the weather is cooperating, and we have someone to watch Brennen, and the stars align), Andrew and I enjoy hiking the East Coast Trail. We have done a number of the trails in and around the city, and just recently went back to explore the area around La Manche, on the Southern Shore.

La Manche was once one of Newfoundland's most picturesque outport communities. Originally settled around 1840, La Manche served as a flourishing seasonal fishing village. It featured a beautiful protected harbour but very little land on which to build, so much of the community was built on stages along the cliffside. You can only imagine how hard the people of La Manche must have worked to run a fishery from such a difficult location. Walking along the trail, we were struck by both the beauty and the harshness of the steep cliffs and the rugged shoreline.

In 1966, a severe winter storm devastated the community, wiping out its stages and wharves, and forcing the residents to resettle. All that remains today are the old concrete and slate foundations upon which the houses stood, remnants of brick chimneys, and stone steps that lead to nowhere.

In the heart of the former fishing village is the most notable feature of La Manche. The 50 metre suspension bridge was built in 1999 - replacing the original bridge that was destroyed by waves in the storm of 1966. This new bridge was officially opened in June 2000, and is dedicated to the former residents of La Manche Village, many of whom resettled in nearby communities.

We continued on a side trail to Doctor's Cove, which is the perfect location to set up a picnic, or to just sit and watch the waves crash in on the rocks. The stillness and the beauty of the area was not lost on us, as we breathed in the salt sea air and enjoyed every moment of silence.

On the way back, Andrew let me take a picture of him in his cat tank top!!!
Back up, ladies. He's taken!

This was such a great day! If you get the opportunity to visit La Manche Village, I totally recommend it!

"There are things we will never see, unless we walk to them." - Thomas A. Clark

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Celebrating the Janeway!

On August 9th, 2016, the Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre will celebrate its 50th birthday! That's 50 years of providing quality pediatric health care services to the children of Newfoundland and Labrador!

I'm sure that everyone in our province can tell a story of how the Janeway has touched their lives, or why the facility is so important and special to them. The Janeway hospital was originally located in Pleasantville, in a building that once housed the American military hospital at Fort Pepperrell. I remember visiting the old Janeway as a child - never for anything overly serious, just a few typical childhood injuries. We were very fortunate to not require the services of the children's hospital on a regular basis, but my family always had the peace of mind in knowing that it was there if my sister or I ever needed it.

In 2001, Eastern Health opened a new, state-of-the-art building as part of the Health Sciences Complex, and this became the home of the new Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre.

Now that I have my own child, we are 'frequent flyers' of the Janeway. Brennen has been well cared for by many of the doctors and staff, and he has had some wonderful experiences with members of the Rehabilitation team. We have become close with the professionals who have treated Brennen over the years - the nurses who have held my hand through some really challenging moments, and the therapists who have lifted my spirits at times when everything just seemed so overwhelming.

To celebrate this big birthday, Eastern Health hosted a celebration for children who are currently or have previously been cared for at the Janeway. The party was a pirate theme, and it was so great to see so many of our friends there to celebrate the occasion! There was face painting, singing and dancing, and lots of fun photo opportunities!

The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs never miss a party!

I am so thankful for the supports and services we have received from the Janeway. It has been a second home to us on many occasions, and it is a place where we truly feel that Brennen's health and safety and our best interests as a family are considered first and foremost.

The families and friends we have met at the Janeway have become such a big part of our lives. Friends that we met early on in our journey - whether from being in the right place at the right time, or just being in the same place A LOT of the time - have remained close friends to this day. We have bonded over our special children. We have a lot in common, and we understand each other. We are the same in the fact that the love we have for our children is greater than the fears and diagnosis, and that is a powerful bond.

It was an honour to be able to celebrate this milestone today with the staff and patients of the Janeway Children's Hospital.

Happy Birthday, Janeway! Here's to many more years of exemplary patient care, and a future full of possibilities for the children of our province!

Here is a slideshow of some of Brennen's Adventures at the Janeway:

Brennen's Adventures at the Janeway by Slidely Slideshow