I just realized that this “about” page was in major need of an update! Sorry if you’ve read this recently and became confused by what it was saying. Oops!
So, I originally started this blog in 2011 (back in my travelling days) to keep the people of Fergus informed of my whereabouts. But, as the years have gone on and my interests have shifted, it became a space for me to talk about my love for working with people with Special Needs (I will more than likely refer to Special Needs as “Different Abilities” for the remainder of this page). I quickly became enthralled in the world of “Special Needs Blogs” and loved, loved, loved reading about the progress the kids I was reading about were making! I later discovered the wonderful “Special Needs Facebook Page” community and became even more enthralled with that. I quickly made connections with families and workers all over the world and found myself surrounded by this absolutely amazing community of people. Something I am eternally grateful for.
I’ll give you all a little bit of background on my involvement with the Special Needs community. Both of my parents work in the field so, I have been surrounded by people with Different Abilities for literally my entire life. Growing up, it was the norm for me. In my middle school years I became involved with Special Olympics, and began spending every free chance I had in the schools Special Education classroom where I made some of my greatest friends. My local Different Abilities community is an amazing one and I was lucky to be able to spend time with my new found friends for years (I’m still friends with them now, three years out of High School) building relationships that remain some of my best. I experienced life and death with these guys and they really are some of the most important people to me. As I worked my way through High School I spent a great deal of time hanging out in Special Education and helping whenever needed. I continued to participate with Special Olympics through the school and eventually began coaching with our local (and only) Special Olympics Swim Team, the Fergus Phantoms. The Phantoms opened a whole new set of doors for me. I was able to be in a completely new environment and work with some pretty gosh darn awesome people. I still coach with the Phantoms and I am now the Head Coach of our Adapt Aquatics swim program. It’s been a very cool experience. While in High School I also started coaching with the Guelph Giants, a Special Hockey International team. Special Hockey International is an extraordinary program that makes hockey accessible for everyone. The Giants are a great organization and I am honoured to still be coaching with them. My last two years of High School was spent basically all in Special Education. I did numerous co-op placements in High School level Special Education as well at the Elementary School level. I absolutely loved every minute of it. I have provided respite care for numerous children with Special Needs for the past five years and have learned so much from that. As you read through my blog you will notice that my main focus is on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism has always fascinated me and I have made in effort over the past few years to learn and experience as much of it as I possibly can. I have a high interest level in all Different Abilities but, my main focus is ASD. Now, probably my most favourite Special Needs related experience of all is my job at a summer camp for children, youth and adults with Special Needs. I started working at camp when I was 16 and it remains to be my, without a doubt, most favourite place in the entire world. I am so thankful for all of the people I’ve met through camp and all of the experiences I have had there. Camp has shaped me as a person. I totally meant for all of that to be super brief, my bad.
I often get asked why my blog is called: “Stories from the Sandbox…” When I was doing one of my co-op placements at an elementary school, I often integrated a little boy (I work with him outside of school so you’ll hear me talk about him a lot, I refer to him as: “Little Boy Seuss”) with his peers at recess. Little Boy Seuss’ favourite activity was to play in the sandbox so we spent a heck of a lot of time there. There was so much school-yard drama that happened in that sandbox. Most of my stories started with “Little Boy Seuss and I were in the sandbox…” so, it seemed like the perfect name for the blog.
I do a lot of advocacy work in real life as well as on this blog (and the Facebook page) so you’ll see a lot of that. I think that educating and advocating is one of the most important things I can do so I make a point of doing it whenever I can. I post a lot of stories from my days’ latest adventure and I often ask for advice from parents and caregivers about what they think is best. I work on a lot of different programs so I’m always looking for feedback.
People I talk about a lot on here:
Jake: My Brother
Little Boy Seuss: One of the boys I work with
Ninja Turtle: Another boy I work with
Jumpy: A girl I worked with
So again, welcome! Sorry that got so long! Feel free to look around and see what’s happening in the sandbox today!
You can check us out on Facebook too: https://www.facebook.com/storiesfromthesandbox