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As I sit on the balcony at the hotel in Punta Gorda around 8 pm I can listen to the children playing and laughing down in the town and it reminds me of the laughing I got to hear from a 13 year old patient with Cerebral Palsy who was fitted for his very first wheel chair. The volunteers at the Hillside Clinic spoke directly to the boy while working with him. It was wonderful to see the smile and hear the laughing come from the boy as they fitted the wheel chair to his body. The clinic also tried to use resources they know the family can get. They suggested using rolled up cloth or towels to use by his legs until he got use to the wheel chair to avoid sores on his legs and sides.  The excitement on his father’s face as he wheeled his son out of the clinic rather than carrying him was a bonus as well. Seeing this brought tears to my eyes as I study in the disability supports field.

 This experience has taught me to appreciate the things we take for granted back at home such as the supports persons with disabilities can receive back at home. I also got to take part in home visits with an occupational therapist. Most of the people here have greeted me with a smile as I walk throughout the town. Every person we went to see was happy to have new faces enter their home. I have also learned on this service learning program to not underestimate people and to go into people’s houses with an open mind and to watch my non-verbal communication because life here is much different than in Canada.  This will be a valuable tool to have back home as well.

Nicole Peel

Disability Support Services Student

NSCC, Kingstec Campus

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