With inclusion and community living month coming up in October, it is a good time to reflect on my time working as a student assistant support worker with Semiahmoo House Society. Working closely with staff and participants of the Personal Development program I have made a lot of connections and close friendships that will surely last a long time. That is a credit to how well Semiahmoo House Society treats everyone in the community.
A personal experience that I believe reflects the message of inclusion month involves a group of ultimate players and an individual by the name of Craig Muirhead. For clarification ultimate is a game played with a Frisbee. The goal is to complete a pass into the end zone of the opposing team. The game is centered on team work and decision making. Craig is a friendly man who is associated with the Employment Training Program. This is where I first met him. He introduced himself and explained that the medal he was wearing was from the Special Olympics, a gold in softball. I gained a lot of respect for Craig because winning a championship in any kind of team sport is a challenge on its own.
The next Tuesday after meeting Craig, My friend Karl Gowdyk and I were getting ready for ultimate. We meet every Tuesday at N.B Sanford Elementary school at 7pm. We set markers for the field end zones (usually a pair of flip flops) and assign two captains to pick teams. The whole process is reminiscent of a high school gym class and the physical activity is a good outlet of energy.
As we began to play I noticed that Craig had showed up and was watching us. After a touchdown was scored and congratulations were given out he asked me from the sidelines if he could play. Sometimes we don’t understand the impact our choices have on others. These choices can sometimes define us as individuals. At the moment, in the heat of the battle, regrettably I said no because the game was close and the teams were balanced. I was unsure how the rest of the group would react to Craig playing; it definitely influenced my decision at the time.
The next day I saw him at the Program and Craig told me he lived close to the field and he expressed how much he wanted to play. In the back of my mind I couldn’t stop thinking about how many times Craig had potentially been excluded or had heard the word “No” in his life. I invited Craig to ultimate the next week and he came ready to play.
He had his own Frisbee in hand along with a knee brace and gym strip. There was no stopping him from playing this time. I picked him first overall for my team and his true athletic instincts came out. Craig was involved in a handful of scoring plays, often contributing a first assist on the touchdown and picked up the basics of the game without difficulty. My team went on to win the game but what’s important is the choice we made as a group to include this man who wanted to play so badly.
It is empowering to think of the impact the word yes has over the word no. I’m proud to be a part of such a welcoming community, professionally and recreationally and I vow to live life on the positive and empowering side rather than the “No” side. My friend Craig and a group of ultimate players helped me realize this.
By: Mat Cruickshank, Student Assistant
Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community.
The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.