This is the story of Janelle Armstrong, a young lady that participates in the programs offered by Personal Development (PD) Services of Semiahmoo House Society, as told by her community support worker, Joyce Dennison.

Janelle Armstrong joined our geo-cache group with very timid attitude that said, “I am afraid of walks in woods.” Every step was slow as she would express, “I might slip.  It is too steep.  I am afraid it is slippery.”

Her mother supported her choosing the hiking class for geo-cache—PD had more sedentary class options, but hiking and outdoor exercise were part of Janelle’s healthy choices plan.

First, she got hiking boots. That was confidence building step #1.  As confidence building step #2, Janelle got a hiking stick which serves as her ‘third leg’ and gives her stable help going up and down hills. My co-worker Georges and I, along with her hiking group, helped her on slippery spots. Then, something magical happened; she started to have fun with walking in the woods!  Her progress continued from there.

After a few weeks, she would be at the front of the group and lead out.  She used the iPad to find the directions to the cache, while beaming and smiling with confidence. As of two weeks ago, she became the group photographer, taking pictures of the woods and the trail.

Now, Janelle loves her Wednesdays and she is the best hiker ever.  Jangle, as we affectionately nickname her, likes to brag to her girlfriends at Semiahmoo House Society: “I am going hiking today and I have fun!”

She talks more, takes photos and goes up and down trails exploring our Vancouver parks with confidence and joy.

Amazing steps toward both strength and independence happen on the trail with Janelle every week!

By Joyce Dennison, Personal Development Services

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 exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

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