Madison V
The author, Madison Van Oene, is one of the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS)

I’ve been living on my own for the past 7 years.  Independence is the key. Being on my own Without my parents. It’s a learning curve. It’s everything from the movies to the mall to the beach to the park to appointments to SAS.

Sometimes it is challenging to fit everything into my schedule. One of my caregivers takes me everywhere.

“The best thing about living on my own is not to have to rely on others to do things for me. I’m not waiting for others I’m doing on my own.”

I make decisions by positive thinking. I don’t see things in a negative light. Being in a wheelchair can seem negative to others but I think in a positive way. My wheelchair, which is almost like a car, helps me get around. If I didn’t have a wheelchair I wouldn’t be able to get around easily and I would miss out on the positive adventures of life.

When I make decisions I can ask people’s opinions, like my parents, but the decision must be mine.  Like when I wanted to move out. It was an enormous life decision because I was afraid to tell my mom. I thought she would be terrified for me. She wanted me to live with her forever. So, I told my dad first. He encouraged me to expand my horizons and started to look for houses. When I told my mom I wanted to move out she stood up and walked out of the room This lead to a court battle over sole custody. We were able to work it out with a lot of discussion.  I am grateful for my dad and mom for  supporting me financially and emotionally and giving me quality of life.

Being a part of SAS has lead me to have a more positive outlook on my life and how to help others. I was involved in food 4 thought. I came early to help with the preparations. We sat around exquisite tables with people from the lower mainland.

We talked about accessibility, housing and the economy and how to make an inclusive community. The questions were challenging. You had to think about how to make a positive answer and exactly what the question meant. I felt respected and listened to. My thoughts were being heard. SAS has introduced me to new concepts and brought me up to new challenges. I feel like I can reach new heights and made me more compassionate to help the community.

One of my passions is the beach wheelchairs. It helps people with mobility issues like me to go into the water and on the beach. We started raising money for the beach wheelchairs. Feral Board Sports has space where we keep the chairs and people can use them for free. It makes me feel empowered to help our community.

I hope you feel inspired by hearing my story.

By Madison Van Oene, Self-Advocate of Semiahmoo

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