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Teen finds fun and friendship with Mind. Body. Mingle.

Thanks to Holland Bloorview, 17-year-old Adrita can now play a mean game of Bocce ball. 

That’s not the only thing the Grade 12 student learned at Holland Bloorview’s new Mind. Body. Mingle. health promotion pilot program, but for her it was definitely one of the highlights. 

A Holland Bloorview client since she was four, Adrita has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – a genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. She uses a power wheelchair for mobility, but sometimes uses a manual wheelchair.

She joined eight other youth with disabilities last fall for this eight-week program that set out to help youth with disabilities build friendships and address personal wellness goals. (The program’s development was a group effort, bringing together youth, parents, researchers, clinicians and community service providers.) 

Youth like Adrita learned new ways to be healthier mentally and emotionally, get active, and get connected to other youth.

The group met every Saturday night at the Toronto Sheppard Ave. YMCA Centre – Holland Bloorview’s partner for this program. The weekly two-hour sessions were hosted by two life skills coaches with extensive experience with working with teens, alongside YMCA staff.                               

Before the program started, Adrita met with a Holland Bloorview life skills coach to map out what she wanted to get out of the program.

She decided she wanted to learn a few new physical activities and learn to be a little more social and open to meeting new people. 

Some of the goals of other participants included eating healthier, learning new ways to gain self-confidence, learning techniques for coping with stress, and new ways to promote relaxation at home or at school.

Adrita loved the program and was sad to see it end. 

“The staff were very encouraging and very approachable,” she said.

She especially enjoyed the arts activities, and games like Bocce ball. She also loved tearing up and down the court playing wheelchair basketball for the first time. 

“I scored a basket, but I wanted to get a lot more,” she admitted.

Moving from hoops to inner-harmony, she was introduced to meditation techniques which she found very useful and plans on using them going forward. 

And like any teen she enjoyed hanging out with youth her age – playing board games, card games, listening to music or talking. (Part of the program was totally unstructured to give this group the chance to socialize.) 

She also appreciated the weekly discussions about very real topics youth with disabilities face, like being happy, self-esteem and coping with stress.

Adrita was comfortable delving into these sometimes difficult discussions, and for her personally, she recognized that she needs to be a little more sure of herself when meeting others. 

“I was always good at meeting new people before, I just need to be a little better at it,” she said. 

When it wrapped up, Adrita felt grateful for having taken the program, a little more self-confident, and ready to mingle. 

She’ll need those qualities when she attends Humber College this fall for its Early Childhood Education program, following her passion to help young kids grow and develop. 

Thanks for Mind. Body. Mingle. she might be a little more comfortable raising her hand. 

Mind. Body. Mingle. was made possible by a generous gift from Manulife. To learn more about this program click here.