July 4, 2011
This week, we have a story from the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre, in Slave Lake, Alberta. The author, Frank Ward, is disabled and gets around with a walker. He was instrumental in getting a ramp built to get to the bridge from the sidewalk on the main street. He is taking literacy and computer classes at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.
Frank attended the Literacy & Learning Symposium 2010 in Edmonton, a conference organized by Community Learning Network and Literacy Alberta on October 27 - 30, 2010.
Having been put on the agenda of the Town of Slave Lake regular council meeting has made an impact on my life. I can make a change, I don't have to be scared. I can take a risk and participate in community events, for I am a citizen. When I did this, I found that my efforts have a great benefit for myself and for others as well. I was able to get a ramp up to the 6th street bridge for me and my walker, but even the kids on bikes and skateboards, or the parents pushing strollers benefit from this ramp. Taking back my power and learning how to use that power has allowed me to be a better part of society. Being diagnosed with Frederick's Ataxia at a young age, from the doctors, I was introduced to my disability. When I was twelve, I made my mind up that "This is it, I have to live in my own skin. So what if I get teased, people will say what they say about the way I walk."
I was invited to take part in the Literacy Alberta Symposium in Edmonton. For four days, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I spent eight to ten hours a day learning new skills in workshops and talking to individuals from around Canada. I saw other people with disabilities there with their workers as well as literacy teachers and others. I felt a sense of ease after seeing them, that I belonged; I didn't feel intimidated. Just didn't see them at the mixer the first night. Any how I made myself convinced and determined to meet and greet people. Even eye contact, body language was a hard thing to muster up! Let alone using voice power. I walked up to two woman and asked them if I can join there table? They said ok so I did, thankfully sitting down on a chair and maintaining eye contact with the two young woman as I had their attention, verbally making some sense of what ever came out of my mouth and making them laugh at the same time.
Sure was good to go to the mixer of the Literacy Alberta Symposium on the first night. On Thursday morning got up and did my thing and was out the door to have breakfast, at the restaurant in the Radisson Hotel. After breakfast I went down stairs on an elevator to my first session it lasted for about an hour and forty minutes then a fifteen minute coffee break before the next program. The learning and laughing of how to be relaxed in the symposium of a multi choice of sessions that I had to choose from and attend over a four day event in Edmonton. I was so excited to be getting to learn new things of how to be a better people person. Being asked to be interviewed and recorded by NALD was so awesome! Having been able to learn new skills and apply them to my life has made such an difference to what I can accomplish.