‘They have been doing an amazing job of supporting Ashbee in a very positive and inclusive way,” says Kirsten Bevelander
Tuesday August 7, 2012 — Camille Jensen
Staff members at Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion’s (BACI) 12th Avenue Out of School Care Centre are being praised for their diligent efforts to help a girl in a wheelchair take her first steps.
Eight-year-old Ashbee has cerebral palsy and is anxious in group settings. She and her family are supported by the BC Centre for Ability, which recommended Ashbee be placed in BACI’s12th Avenue Centre to receive additional support in learning to walk, which was a main goal for the family.
Kirsten Bevelander, a consultant with the BC Centre for Ability’s Burnaby Supported Child Development, says the BC Centre and 12th Avenue enjoy a long relationship of working together, and their inclusive practices and expertise is benefiting Ashbee.
“They have been doing an amazing job of supporting Ashbee in a very positive and inclusive way,” she says. ““The staff are very skilled.”
As a result, Kirsten says Ashbee is now comfortable participating with her peers at the centre without needing to leave due to anxiety.
Kirsten and 12th Avenue staff also began working to support Ashbee in walking. The main challenge was supporting Ashbee without a walking aid.
Kirsten says the two groups brainstormed on practical approaches to support Ashbee in leaving her wheelchair. They realized Ashbee liked putting weight on her feet and holding onto people’s hands to practise walking. A schedule was made to allow time for 12th Avenue staff to walk with Ashbee each day.
“They were great at doing it,” recalls Kirsten. “She just got stronger over time.”
Several months ago, Ashbee, who had been walking using only one hand for support, began to let go entirely and walk on her own.
“It was so joyful,” recalls Kirsten, who commends 12th Avenue for being equally passionate about helping Ashbee reach her goals.
“She loves to walk, and her face lights up and the entire daycare lights up because it’s such a joy to see her walking.”
Ashbee’s mother Allison Wate agrees. She recalls her eyes welling up with tears when she arrived at daycare to pick up Ashbee and learned she had walked for the first time.
“It was quite amazing,” says Allison. “We were told she may never walk.”
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