Volunteering Experience with REACH School
by Amelie E-D on May 12, 2015 - 12:02am
Volunteering Experience with REACH School
On April 15th, I participated to an activity that took place in the gymnasium of the school with a school in St-Lambert parts of the Riverside School Board. This school is called REACH (Realistic Educational Alternatives for Children with Handicaps). This establishment is there to welcome children that have disabilities or handicaps. They want to help them to become more independent. It constitutes seven classes and counts 65 students. It offers different programs more about the way of living for children aged of 4 to 21 years old. This establishment is the only English public school that is offering those kinds of programs for children in the Montreal area. I found this organization interesting and I enjoyed my experience with them. The objective was to play and help the teenagers to develop skills when they were doing a physical activity.
We first welcomed them in the cafeteria with pizza and salad and we served them. After that, we went in the gymnasium to play some activities. They had to practice certain disciplines for their event of the year: The Defi Sportif that takes place in Montreal and welcomes disabled teenagers from everywhere around the world. This event allows the students to surpass themselves and show to the world that is not because they live with a disability that they cannot do what others do. I already did a post about the Defi Sportif that explains in details what it consists of: http://newsactivist.com/en/flacks-newsactivist-winter-2015-complementary-course/volunteer-opportunity/most-rewarding-volunteer. This activity made us realise that some teenagers really do not have an easy life and it is certainly very hard for the parents to find the energy to be always there for their kids. I also, personally, realise that some of them are really like us. Because I met young girls of my age, I really compared us and at the end, there is no difference. There is only more restrictions for what they do, but all is the same.
Two of the girls in the group were telling me their love story with their boyfriend that were also in the group. They were really cute. That made me realise that we all live from the same thing. I already knew it, but when you are into it, it is different, believe me. We are alive for love and our passions. Those girls never stopped telling me that they wanted to dance in the gymnasium with everybody. They literally wanted transform the gym in a disco. Even, when we were in the cafeteria and we were just talking about anything, and one of the girl told me: “I want to take a shot!” I was really surprised about this thought honestly. She thought about it because the water glasses that we had on the tables were almost as smaller as a shot glass, but seriously, I did not even noticed it. They are really smart, they just do not express the same way than we do, but except that, we all have a brain and the brain is there to control what we do whoever we are.
After the cafeteria activity, we went in the gymnasium to first play the tag with the teenagers. We had to keep them with us and be sure they follow us wherever we go. This is very tricky because you really have to act like you would do with one of your friend, even if they are not walking properly or if they do not talk. The objective was to make them interact with everybody in the gym at that point. It was a beautiful activity that everybody enjoyed. After, we started the more serious disciplines, and this is where it got harder with some of them. They were not fully doing this for the pleasure, they had an objective behind this, which is the Defi Sportif that promotes the physical activity for disabled teenagers, as I already mentioned upper in the post. Here is a link for a video that has been published by CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Montreal/ID/2665618109/ At 0:25 seconds and even later in the video, they interviewed a boy from REACH school that was participating to the volunteering activity at Champlain. This activity made me realise that practicing a sport casually is really important for our health. It is also something that sticks everybody together whatever the differences are because we are all doing this for the same reason: to have a healthy lifestyle. It is really amazing what sport leads to, honestly.
In the world, the sport is not enough promoted and it is something that should matter for everybody. There are many more publicities about this now, but people are not enough participating. At least, there is a progression here in Quebec. We have important models that try to make a change such as Pierre Lavoie who is an amazing man. He organizes so many activities to promote sport in schools and now, in families. He knows that the sport is really the issue of everything. According to me, he is doing an amazing job to try to motivate the students. For primary school, he organizes an activity that consists to earn energy cubes. Each cube worth 15 minutes. Every time a kid and his family are doing sport, they accumulate energy cubes. For example, if my little sister and I are doing bike for 30 minutes, she has four energy cubes. I did two and she did two also. I believe it is an amazing project because it is easy to understand and it promotes sport in a different way. Usually, we say that we should do at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, but for some people 30 minutes seem to be a lot. In this case, I think that 15 minutes will encourage more people to move. Here is the link that explains clearly what will happen in Quebec in the future thanks to those energy cubes: http://newsactivist.com/en/news-summary/flacks-newsactivist-winter-2015-complementary-course/together-we-can-make-difference . For high schools, cegeps and universities, the Grand Defi Pierre Lavoie exists. This relay race starts in Quebec City and ends up in Montreal. The objective of this run is to promote sports in those establishments for the students, but also to raise funds for the orphan diseases. It is really incredible because it works and it is a motivation for the students to go to school because of the trainings and the chemistry that takes place in the running team. I have done this Defi twice in my life and I do not regret it at all. The pain that we feel during the Defi is nothing compared to what the children with rare disease can feel. After this amazing experience, you know that nothing can stop you in life.
In conclusion, thanks to those activities, but especially the REACH volunteering activity, that made me realised that we are all the same. We are all humans and we all breathe the same air to live. If we help others, we will all go further together and we should never forget to smile even if things are not going well. Life is more than just a word, it represents all what us, humans can do if we decide to stand up and fight together to accomplish what we want.