Zach can’t wait for camp

Few things make Zach smile as much as seeing his kite dance in the sky.

The well-spoken seven-year-old who has cerebral palsy recently discovered the joy of flying kites and he’s hooked.

His mom Barb or one of his four siblings, help him launch the kite, but once it catches the breeze, Zach happily takes command

He’s good at it too. He’s able to control the kite and make it dip and flip in the air. His smile and laughter are infectious.

Sunny disposition

The staff at Holland Bloorview know that laugh well. He’s been coming here since he was two years old.

Zach has benefitted from a myriad of services – physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding clinic and more. He’s also spent many an hour with his developmental pediatrician.

Despite the appointments and ongoing treatments, he’s a happy-go-lucky kid.

“He’s always looking for the positive,” said Barb. “He has his down days like any kid with a disability, but 99 per cent of the time, he’s up for some fun.”

That includes sharing one of his many jokes and taking part in an endless list of interests and activities – from playing tag to public speaking to Volt hockey. That’s hockey played on a gymnasium floor in specially designed electric carts with a stick on the front rail. Zach noted, “I’m a really good goalie.”

Home away from home

Zach feels very much at home at Holland Bloorview.

“It’s a safe place for him,” said Barb. “He can take off in his wheelchair and go to the cafeteria and start chatting with people and I don’t have to worry about him feeling self-conscious about having to use a wheelchair…it’s completely accepting.”

Zach also can’t wait to get outdoors, where he will be attending Spiral Garden summer camp for the first time.

“He’s very excited. The moment I mentioned it he said, ‘That’s where I want to be!’” said Barb.

“He loves art, so the idea of being able to build things with wood, painting, playing drums outside and just making a big mess, he really enjoys that,” she added.

“I like to draw too, I like to draw things from my imagination,” said Zach who added he loves creating imaginary creatures like dragons and dinosaurs, as well as the worlds in which they dwell.

Can’t beat an inclusive camp

“It’s neat to be able to send him to camp and know he’s going to be well cared for and be able to participate in everything that is happening,” said Barb.

“We try to treat him like every other kid and try not to exclude him from anything, but there are some situations where it’s just really difficult to include him. But not here. At Holland Bloorview, everything is made for him.”

Barb also loves the fact that Spiral Garden is open to anyone with or without special needs. Zach will be joined in Spiral Garden by his little sister, Kate, who doesn’t have a disability.

And she appreciates how the camp’s staff know when to support the kids and when to let them just enjoy the activities as well as each other’s company.

“They know when to back off and let the kids bond,” said Barb. “The children need to be able to have a conversation with another child without someone answering for them…You want the kids to have the experience, not the staff.”

When asked about what he is looking forward to most at Spiral Garden, Zach said he would take a look at all the activities and then decide what to take part in.

“What’s important is just having a good time,” he said.