SMD Foundation/Easter Seals™ Manitoba is proud to introduce our Adult and Youth Ambassadors for 2017-2018.

Meet Jocelyne Yanofsky - 2017-18 Adult Ambassador

Jocelyne, now thirty years old first got involved with SMD as a pre-school student in the Communication Centre for Children for the Deaf and Hard Hearing. She has also benefited from the summer day camps through SMD and later on became a part time councillor to help other children and youth with disabilities enjoy the camp experience. “I love making new friends and helping others,” exclaimed Jocelyne.

For years, Jocelyne and her family have volunteered for the Safeway Campaign by attending the Safeway location at McPhillips and Jefferson.  The goal was to help raise awareness and funds to support leisure and recreational programming for children and youth with disabilities in Manitoba.

Jocelyne is looking forward to meeting lots of new people as she embraces her new role as Adult Ambassador for SMD Foundation/Easter Seals™ Manitoba.

Meet Caleb McKague - 2017-18 Youth Ambassador

Caleb is a fun, outgoing five-year old but,  at one time, his future was not so certain - his family didn't even know if they'd get to spend 5 hours or 5 days with him, let alone 5 years! Since he came into this world, Caleb has amazed all those around him with his spirit and determination.

Caleb suffered a brain injury and severe seizures at birth and was diagnosed with Spastic/Dyskinetic Quad Cerebral Palsy, which means all four limbs are affected. One of the many obstacles Caleb faces as a result of his diagnosis is the ability to feed himself. Although he is able to eat orally, he also uses a feeding tube.

“His biggest challenge is communication,” explains his mom Cindy.  “Caleb is very intelligent. However being unable to speak makes it extremely difficult to understand what he wants/needs. We get frustrated and feel helpless. I can't even begin to imagine what Caleb must feel like when he looks at something and wants it and nobody can figure it out... It breaks my heart.”

He struggles on a daily basis to do everything but these things do not define him.  Cindy didn’t know what to expect and took a ‘wait and see’ approach as Caleb either met the milestones of growing up or didn’t.  At eight-months old, Caleb began receiving services from SMD including the Outreach Program, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology.  SMD also provided resources to Cindy and her husband, which helped them to understand what their next steps might be.

“The outreach program has been amazing. The therapists are wonderful. They treat Caleb so well and are a world of useful information. I am very thankful,” says Cindy.  Recently, Caleb received a new piece of equipment with funding assistance from the SMD Assistive Technology Program.  The Buddy Roamer allows him the freedom and mobility to be independent.

“He can walk up to a table and play with books and his iPad.  He dances in it and he is even able to run up to me or anyone and give us a great big hug. He can walk into the kitchen to his high chair or the counter to show us that he needs something or he will walk down the hallway to his room.  I love it. One of his favorite things to do is go to the YMCA.  He loves to go swimming and into the hot tub.  He also likes to play basketball, climb the play structure and go down the slides with his sister.  Caleb is so active we signed him up for micro soccer this summer.  I am so excited for him to be able to do that this year. He is thrilled.  The addition of the Buddy Roamer is the best thing that could have happened to him,” exclaims Cindy.

Taking care of Caleb’s needs and raising a two-year old daughter has been a balancing act for Cindy and her husband but they appreciate the support and precious moments that life has given them.

“People take so much for granted and in this special life you really can't. Caleb told me through his Eye Gaze (a computer he controls with his eyes, and can use to speak for him) that he loved me, for the first time at the age of 4.  The most amazing thing was hearing that. Even though it was not his voice saying it and they were words from a computer I still knew that those words were meant for me and that they came from him,’ reflects Cindy.

“This is the road less traveled, but it is easier when we have people who will not be afraid to walk beside us.”

View past Ambassadors