Our baby girl, Madison, was born three years ago. She arrived early at 32 weeks. We enjoyed those early months. But at the age of six months we realized she wasn’t meeting her milestones for gross motor skills. Then, after her first birthday, we received the devastating news. Madi has Cerebral Palsy (CP).
Madi will be a Variety Villager for life. She calls it her second home. It’s also the place where I have had many joyful life experiences.
My family has been made to feel at home at Variety Village, the flagship project of Variety the Children’s Charity (Ontario) for the last 30 years. All of my longest and closest friendships were formed at here. Even my marriage to James and my career path have their roots in the Village.
My first experience with Variety Village, the 168,000 square foot sport and recreation facility built through funds raised by Variety – the Children’s Charity, was when I was four. We lived in the neighbourhood. My mother loved the inclusive, integrated philosophy and soon realized there was something for everyone with or without disabilities. So she introduced me and my brother to Variety.
Over the years we participated in Children in Motion, a unique program focusing on the fundamentals of play; we had Red Cross swim lessons, and attended summer camps. When I was 15 years old I volunteered with the Children in Motion program, taught swim lessons and was a life-guard.
Now, my husband James and I watch Madi as she swims in the pool with her instructor Ryan or 16 year old Flames Team swimmer, Jessica. Because Jessica also has CP, she and Madi have created a unique bond. Madi loves the water and has become a little fish. More importantly, I see that Madi is proud of herself.
We laugh as Madi zooms around the fieldhouse with her walker or climbs the obstacle course in her Children in Motion program. It comforts me to see her participating in programs together with her little brother Jack, who is one year old.
I’m forever grateful to Variety the Children’s Charity for making sure we have a place like Variety Village. Our children are accepted, safe, comfortable, and included at their “second home.” Madison and all the kids’ like her appreciate your support. Variety Village is essential in the lives of so many children and families.
From Madi and me – Thank you!
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