Sunday, July 31, 2016

Raise It Up!

Rainbow Riders is Newfoundland and Labrador’s only nationally certified therapeutic riding centre. For over 20 years, it has been a source of strength, inspiration and friendship for young people with special needs. I have written about our family's experience with Rainbow Riders HERE.

With more referrals than capacity, the demand for its programs has never been greater. Rainbow Riders’ important work is being done in facilities that cannot meet current and future needs, and Rainbow Riders needs an upgrade. Now is the time to Raise It Up!

The Raise It Up campaign was started with the intent to rally the community behind Rainbow Riders, and to improve its facilities to be able to meet the needs of all youth who want to ride. Children with a variety of special needs are referred to Rainbow Riders by therapists, doctors, and advocacy groups, and any child with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges are encouraged to participate. No child is turned away, however children are often on a long wait list because of the limited capacity, which is why the Raise It Up capital campaign was launched. Cabinet members have a collective obligation to sustain opportunities for youth with disabilities in our province.

Brennen thoroughly enjoyed the time that he was involved with therapeutic riding, however he hasn't been riding for the past couple of years. We found that as he got bigger and taller, he was requiring much more support and it was becoming difficult for the side-walkers to hold him in a safe and comfortable way. We thought his riding days might be over, as the capacity for Rainbow Riders to accommodate older youth and children with more acute disabilities is limited due to lack of equipment, but it is very exciting to know that along with the development of the new barn, the plans for the new riding arena will include equipment that is able to lift heavier and more physically involved riders, helping even more children to avail of equine therapy!

 photos by David Howells

Today, we attended the Rainbow Riders Family Fun Day, where registered riders and the general public were invited to enjoy a day of pony rides, bouncy castles, face painting, lots of fun games and a bbq. It was great to see some of our favourite friends, and to support this valuable therapeutic riding program. Rainbow Riders programs and facilities are maintained through donations and fundraising, and could not continue without the generous support of our community.

The message is clear - We rise by lifting others.

The Raise It Up campaign will enable Rainbow Riders to build new infrastructure that will allow them to operate year round and to serve three times as many riders. The future is exciting!

The outpouring of support for Rainbow Riders is a beautiful example of how our community believes in the future of all of our children. As a Mom of a child with a disability, it means so much to be a part of a loving community that fights for change and steps in to help raise the ceiling of opportunity. I hope that every parent of every child with special needs has the opportunity to feel like their child is seen and that their unique journey is recognized.

To learn more about Rainbow Riders, go HERE
To read more about the Raise It Up campaign, go HERE
For my previous post about our experience with Rainbow Riders, click HERE

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Exploring Signal Hill

This afternoon, Andrew and I did a little exploring around the trails on Signal Hill. We have done the popular North Head Trail many times, but we haven't really explored the other trails in the area and we've been meaning to do so. It was a warm and humid day, so we welcomed the wind (even though I had to cut the tangles out of my hair when we got home!).

The views from the top of the hill are truly incredible, as you overlook the Narrows of St. John's Harbour, and the colourful city itself. We went inside Cabot Tower, climbed the winding staircase and stood out on the rooftop looking over the North Atlantic. So beautiful.

We never get tired of this beautiful province, and we just love living here. We love breathing in the salt sea air and discovering more and more of our island's natural beauty. This place really is spectacular.

Here are some photos from our day:

After our walk, we stopped at the Newfoundland Chocolate Café for a sandwich and gelato... to die for! 
The café is located inside the Signal Hill Visitor Information Centre, and is the perfect stop for hikers on days like today!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! If you have any favourite hiking trails, I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Celebrating the Child I Have

 “Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It's about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you're lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” - Joan Ryan, The Water Giver

I love him so much. Every inch, and every detail. Sometimes I can't believe that he belongs to me. I am so fortunate. Contemplating how he has changed my life, how he needs me, and how I need him - it overwhelms me. Brennen, you are amazing, and I am so proud to be your Mom.

photos by Nate Gates

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Picnic in the Park

Stella's Circle is a leading social services agency here in St. John's that offers programs for adults who have barriers to full participation in the community, including poverty, homelessness, and health issues. Stella's Circle offers help through counseling and support programs, emergency shelter and affordable housing, as well as education, training, and employment opportunities.

The Hungry Heart Café is an initiative of Stella's Circle that helps vulnerable adults access careers in the food service industry so that they can achieve independence and meaningful employment. All revenue generated by the Hungry Heart Café goes right back into the operation to fund employment training.

This Summer, the Hungry Heart Café is offering 'Loop Bag' picnic lunches (inspired by the new skating surface, 'The Loop'), and we were so excited to try them! Andrew and Brennen and I enjoyed a lovely picnic this afternoon in Bannerman Park, breathing in the sweet Summer air and just appreciating our gorgeous surroundings. Seriously, how beautiful is this park right now?

Andrew had the Ham, Gruyere & Avocado on Ciabatta with a chick pea salad, a brownie, and iced tea. I had the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Mint and Cilantro Dressing, topped with a Cinnamon Pork Paté and a cream cheese square. So delicious!!

I love that Stella's Circle helps individuals by combining education with natural supports, providing a fully inclusive experience aimed at preparing individuals for employment and independent living. They ask questions like, "What is it that you want to do?" and "How can we help you get there?"

I am so thankful for the questions that they are asking, and the great work they are doing to respond to the needs of our community.

People are capable of having a very full life, if you let them, and give them guidance. It starts with accepting others and ourselves as we are, and learning to thrive as unique individuals.

Stella's Circle and the Hungry Heart Café are opening hearts and minds, encouraging people to be tolerant, compassionate and empowered. They acknowledge the fact that everyone has the right to be who they are without judgement and without shame. Everyone matters. Everyone's uniqueness contributes to our community, and that's exactly the type of community I want to live in.

Click HERE to reserve your Loop Bag Picnic!


After our picnic, we took a walk around the grounds of nearby Government House, including a visit with the horses of the RNC Mounted Unit!

Such a fun day! Brennen was exhausted by the end of it, but we were so happy to be able to get out and enjoy the sunshine! 
The forecast is calling for continued warm temperatures, and we will be making the most of it. Happy Summer!