(January 2012) I didn’t know how to be open. I felt always hidden. Always playing the card leftover when the other personalities drew first. I was good at it. I could morph, shape shift, be a chameleon and to an extent, I could handle the pain. But then things started to wear thin and the separation between my mind and… Read more →
This year the H.W.C.D.S.B. is encouraging student voice and physical literacy by supporting student councils with a leadership program based on student well-being. Traditionally student council has been in charge of various roles within the school – from helping at assemblies to organizing food drives – they have helped create a sense of student governance and representation. This year, the… Read more →
During the month of October the St. Joes Wellness Program focused on creating a culture of well-being since in Canada October is both healthy workplace month and the tenth is international World Mental Health Day. The wellness program at the hospital offers staff fitness classes, mindful communities of practice and monthly professional and personal development seminars. Since the program began… Read more →
Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw is the Co-Director of the Inter-professional Mindfulness Meditation certificate program at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. She is also the Founding Director of the Centre for Compassion and Wisdom in Burlington. She is the author of “16 Guidelines for Life” which is being offered at the centre in Burlington and as Secular Ethics of… Read more →
The Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board (H.W.C.D.S.B.) is proud to celebrate the achievements of one of their alumni this month.
Drew Cadman graduated from St. Mary's high school in 2001 and since he left he has been making the school proud through his remarkable volunteering accomplishments at the Hamilton General Hospital.
"Sometimes I want to go back to St. Mary's and say hi to them." He tells me when we meet at the Freeway Cafe on King Street for his weekly art therapy session. "Maybe I could do a speech or something, tell them about myself." I can tell that he is excited just thinking about the opportunity to share his story and I ask him what he would like to share with them about his journey. "How I work, that I'm disabled, that I'm visually impaired but can still see what I'm doing, that I'm working at the hospital for over 2000 hours and I'm loving it." This explains a lot about Drew, his acknowledgment of his own challenges and how he doesn't let them stop him from enjoying life and giving back.
Drew works at the Hamilton General every week in the Cardiac and health rehabilitation unit helping to sort the mail and assisting doctors with filing and organization. He has been at the General since highschool when he began as a co-op student after a job-coach from St. Marys worked closely with him to find something that was inspiring and fit his tastes.
The hospital works well for him, he has a set schdule and a dependable routine. Every Tuesday morning the bus picks him up and drops him off. He used to have someone walk him inside and up the elevator but Drew has been taking more steps towards independence and now goes from the bus upstairs on his own. When he arrives the mail is ready for him to fold and staple and seal. He usually works for a couple of hours before he has to bring the bag to the mail room. He tells me that the introduction of a bag is a new thing, “there used to be a cart” he says, ”but I ran over too many toes.”
Drew has been awarded four recognition pins for his service at the Hamilton General Hospital - one for 5 years of service, one for 500 hours earned, one for 1000 hours earned and then his biggest accomplishment to date, a pin for 2000 hours.
Drew is a particular young man, he knows what he likes and he knows what he doesn’t. He says that on his break he likes to have dill pickle chips, that he likes chocolate and green tea. He says that he likes to sort the mail in the staff room where its quiet and calm and that he likes to listen to the radio on low – the oldies are his favorite especially Elvis. Then Drew lowers his head, tilts his eyes towards the heavens and begins to sing "Love me Tender." He is a remarkable singer and has a ear for matching the tone of the song with such ease.
Since Drew thrives on a solid routine, he bowls every Monday and he paints every Friday. He has a solid social life and spends his time within the community learning, enjoying and sharing. I learn that Drew really is a successful artist, that the paintings that he makes on Friday afternoon at the Freeway Cafe have all sold to local businesses, organizations and even as artwork for homes. Since Drew has some difficulty seeing, he says that he uses a large atlas at home because he can see the colours and that helps to inspire his choices for his paintings. He uses all different canvas sizes and likes to paint with acrylics and pastels, his Christmas cards are especially liked he says, and there is even an open house in November which showcases his work.
He says that although he stays busy with his hospital work and with his passions he also takes time to be quiet. He reflects on memories of childhood, swimming and boating and cooking and how he likes being out by the Harbour so he can wave at the boats and sit by the water. He likes to listen to all the sounds, the birds and geese, the bikes and boats, the people rollerblading by. And at night, when his busy days are done, he showers, sits by himself and listens to a white noise machine that plays sounds of dolphins and waves and wind, he has a couple minutes to catch up on his favorite Toronto and Hamilton sports teams before the automatic timer shuts them off and its time to sleep.
I ask Drew how being at St. Marys has helped him since he graduated in 2001. “It taught me how to cope with change." He says that school was important because it strengthened bonds with friends, taught him how important a social life was, it encouraged him to grow and learn and even how to use technology to help him with self-expression. Being there taught him "how you should always try to do things your yourself, like find a job or something that you are interested in." I ask him what he would like to say to the community that helped in establishing a solid foundation for him, and he says, "I would thank the teachers and the educational assistants for being all my friends and helping me get this far in my life."
Then, he concludes, "Maybe I can sing a song for them too."
Drew's artwork can be purchased from the James St. N. Gallery through the Salvation Army Paparella Art Program which provides adults with developmental disabilities a creative space to gain a sense of self-awareness and life meaning.
Drew with his artwork at the Freeway Cafe in Hamilton
Drew and Kate after the Elvis Presley serenade
We’ve begun work on our Mindful Playground – The Land of Super-Here-o. Together we are learning about the relationship of Space and Place – Space as a Physical Geography and Place as an Emotional Geography. As Researchers and Story-tellers we have completed a field-study on the playground and focused our attention towards how an awareness of movement affects our awareness… Read more →