Malic, the superhero!

Words by William Shatner

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Malic was born in Dubai and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant when his parents noticed he wasn’t meeting important developmental milestones. They immediately found physiotherapy for him, and continued to maintain a similar structure for him at home, reinforcing what he was learning in his therapy sessions. Though steady, his progress was slow.

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Malic at the museum!

Malic’s parents had heard of Conductive Education® (CE), but it wasn’t offered in Dubai. After the family moved back to Canada, they signed Malic up for March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education Summer Camp where they learned that the sky was the limit for this bright and engaging young boy!

 

After their first assessment, the family walked away feeling hope and excitement! The great staff at March of Dimes Canada knows that it is important not only for Malic to believe that he can do anything and everything he wants to do, but that his family believes it too! Malic is continually given challenges that are outside his comfort zone, and he rises to the occasion every time! He is always quick to say “I can do it myself…”

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Those are words we LOVE to hear at March of Dimes Canada. Those words are why we do what we do.

He loves superheroes, but to me, Malic is the superhero!

Malic’s accomplishments are all 100% his own. He loves to dance, listen to music and play video games just like any other boy. He loves superheroes, but to me, Malic is the superhero! The love, compassion and determination he shows every day of his life exemplifies the March of Dimes spirit.

People like Malic are why I support March of Dimes Canada. I hope Malic’s story will inspire you as it has inspired me.

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I am also pleased to remind you that March of Dimes Canada has been accredited by Imagine Canada’s Standards Program for excellence in financial accountability and transparency, fundraising and governance. Learn more about our Conductive Education® Program by visiting the following link: http://bit.ly/ModcCEP

March of Dimes Canada, Nektarios, New Community Blog Post / "If March of Dimes Canada didn't provide Conductive Education, I don't believe I would be where I am today!"

Let’s Talk About: Nektarios!

March of Dimes Canada, Nektarios, New Community Blog Post / "If March of Dimes Canada didn't provide Conductive Education, I don't believe I would be where I am today!"

Nektarios is a proud and successful 27-year-old young man with a bright future ahead of him. But it wasn’t always that way. His family knew that he was not meeting his important developmental milestones as he struggled to sit independently as a baby. As he grew older, he was increasingly dependent on his family and friends to help him in the activities of daily living.

Now, as a proud young adult, the last thing Nektarios wants is to rely solely on others for his care and comfort. He wants — and needs — to learn how to be as independent as possible. His mother found the March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education® (CE) Program after hearing about it through word of mouth from friends and acquaintances. Nektarios began attending CE sessions in 2004, at the age of 15.

At the beginning, walking was difficult for Nektarios. But he set big goals for himself in CE class. He wanted to gain the strength he needed to go out with friends, enjoy the outdoors, play his favorite video games and enjoy being an active member of his community.

 

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Nektarios during one of his Conductive Education classes with CE conductor Rachel

His own determination, the skills and dedication of the March of Dimes Canada staff, and your donations have all made such a difference for Nektarios in so many ways. He was able to live independently while at college, and tackle all of the challenges of daily living with minimal assistance. Walking with one cane — a task that was all but impossible for him just a few short years ago — is now something he can do with confidence and ease.

“If March of Dimes Canada didn’t provide Conductive Education® I don’t believe I would be where I am today,” Nektarios tells us.

Increased mobility has given Nektarios the freedom he always wanted!

The evolution of this young man has been extraordinary. He enjoys life and is passionate about spreading the word about March of Dimes Canada and the life-changing programs that are available here. Every aspect of his life has changed for the better.

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Nektarios (center) with his mother, Angela, and Aron Ralston at the Ability and Beyond Dinner in 2016

Conductive Education® is one of the programs that is also partly funded through money raised from our Door-To-Door campaign. Though physical Door-To-Door is coming to an end, you can still help support CE from the comfort of your own home! Sign up as an online canvasser and share your personal page with contacts and help support Canadians with disabilities: http://www.marchofdimes.ca/doortodoor/

 

Madison. ".. it wasn't long before she was able to start standing on her own." - New Community Blog Post!

Let’s Talk About: Madison!

Madison. ".. it wasn't long before she was able to start standing on her own." - New Community Blog Post!

Last summer, we met little Madison. In just one short year, she has opened the doors to a world of independence with hard work, and your commitment to help!

Madison’s family found March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education® (CE) Program after discovering that Madison wasn’t meeting her developmental milestones as a baby. Her parents worried that she would be facing a lifetime of frustration and challenges. But, because CE is one of the only programs available to very young children in Canada, it was a perfect opportunity for her to start facing those challenges with a supportive team right beside her.

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In her first CE session, she learned to sit independently! It wasn’t long before she was able to start standing on her own, and learning to walk with her walker.

Now, a full year later, Madison is a girl on the move! She’s a bright and confident child who loves learning how to jump and how to use her quad canes. She is working on stamina, core strength and balance, controlled breathing and purposeful movements of her body. She is able to figure out for herself how to change positions and stand independently. Most importantly, she has found her voice – she advocates for herself, she makes sure she is heard!

Check out this video explaining our Conductive Education Program, which also features Madison!

She swims! She plays with her friends! She rides her horse! She can conquer ANYTHING that life puts in front of her. Today, she takes charge of her world like the little fighter she is! Way to go Madison!

CE® is also one of our donor funded programs, partly funded by our Door-to-Door Program, which runs from November to late March. If you’re interested in volunteering as a canvasser for this year or the following, please email us at info@marchofdimes.ca with “Door-2-Door Volunteer” in the subject header!

 

"Maida de Stein has been canvassing for MODC for over 2 decades!"

Let’s Talk About: Maida De Stein!

"Maida de Stein has been canvassing for MODC for over 2 decades!"

Written by Tina Siegel

Maida de Stein has been canvassing for March of Dimes Canada for over 2 decades, just like her mother used to do, and she has it down to a science.

Every year, Maida gets out her lists of phone numbers and addresses, and calls ahead to ask for pledges. She keeps careful records, then only goes to the homes of people who have agreed to donate. It’s quick and efficient.

That’s one secret to Maida’s success: organization.

‘But it’s a chance to catch up sometimes, too,’ she adds. ‘I know everyone on my route. I have a personal relationship with them.’

Maida goes beyond her route, as well. She approaches relatives, friends, members of her book club and tai chi class – anyone who might be willing to donate, or who has donated in the past. This often takes her well beyond her assigned canvass.

That’s another secret: personal relationships.

Maida also gives as much as she gets. She’ll often propose an exchange – you donate this much to my charity, and I’ll donate the same amount to yours. Everyone wins.

And that’s the last secret to Maida’s success: mutual benefit.

The result: Maida is one of MODC’s most successful canvassers, raising about $1,500 every year for a total of nearly $12,000 since 2002. She’s the first to acknowledge that it’s hard work, but also that it’s worth it.

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Every dollar Maida collects goes straight towards supporting kids like Zachary (see photo), who are benefitting from MODC’s innovative Conductive Education® (CE) program. CE is designed to help people with neurological motor disorders like cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s to gain mobility and more independence. http://bit.ly/ModcCEP

‘It’s a tough job,’ she says, ‘but very rewarding.’

If you’re interested in volunteering as a canvasser for this year or the following, please email us at info@marchofdimes.ca with “Door-2-Door Volunteer” in the subject header!

Andrea Luciani - picture of her smiling - "..I like to use the word ABLE when it comes to my progress."

Let’s Hear From: Andrea Luciani!

Andrea Luciani - picture of her smiling - "..I like to use the word ABLE when it comes to my progress."
Written by Andrea Luciani

I was born with cerebral palsy and I assumed from a young age that my parents would always do everything for me. I never thought that someday I would grow up and live an independent life, despite my disability.

But, thanks to March of Dimes’ Conductive Education® (CE) Program (http://bit.ly/ModcCEP), I have been able to turn my disabilities into abilities! I’ve been a part of the CE® Program since I was 6 years old. I am now 23 years old and the climb  hasn’t been easy. Cerebral palsy has affected all aspects of my life, including my mobility, coordination, posture, and my ability to do daily living activities independently.

Today, I like to use the word ABLE when it comes to my progress. I am able to sit down and get up independently. I am able to walk using single point canes. I am able to get from room to room on my own in my house. Every day, I focus on what I am able to do!
The CE® Program has been instrumental in my life.

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March of Dimes Canada’s CE® Program is designed specifically for people with neurological motor disorders and offers an alternative group setting approach to rehabilitation. CE® didn’t just give me tools to help my mobility; it also provided me with a voice. Instead of my parents or others speaking on my behalf, I learned to advocate for my own needs. I may need special accommodations to aid in that process but I make sure I am heard!

Thank you! Because of your generosity, and my wonderful teachers at CE®, I have grit! I have learned to never give up, keep trying, keep learning new ways to do something, and always strive to conquer! If wonderful programs like CE® did not exist due to lack of funding, many of my accomplishments would not have been possible. You have literally changed my life! I hope that CE® can continue to have a profound and lasting effect on every participant’s life.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

CE® is also one of our donor funded programs, partly funded by our Door-to-Door Program, which runs from November to late March. If you’re interested in volunteering as a canvasser for this year or the following, please email us at info@marchofdimes.ca with “Door-2-Door Volunteer” in the subject header!

L.I.F.E. Toronto: Meet Usman

The L.I.F.E .Toronto program is pleased to introduce you to Usman. Last year Usman finished high school and was excited to begin the next chapter of his life but was sad to be leaving friends behind and wondered what to do next. When he heard about the pilot program offered at March of Dimes, Usman was excited to give it a try and has been back every session since. When Usman is asked what keeps him coming back to L.I.F.E. Toronto he answers “Because it is so fun!  And the social outings give me the opportunity to get out of his house and meet up with new and old friends.”  Usman loves being active and thrives during the recreational outings, especially when we play baseball!

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Usman has seen his role in the program grow as he works towards being a mentor.  He always goes out of his way to make new participants feel welcome.  He gladly gives others tours of the sites he is familiar with and helps them find their way around. Usman is a whiz with computers and has helped others learn how to use applications like Wheel-Trans online.  During recreational outings Usman has let his leadership skills shine through as he leads a game of baseball and then shows off what an amazing team player he is as he cheers on his team mates.

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It is in Conductive Education® that Usman shows his determination and strength. When he first joined L.I.F.E. Toronto, Usman did not get out of his chair very often, not because he couldn’t, but because he did not realize how capable he was. Walking more independently was a goal Usman had and with help and guidance from the conductors in Conductive Education®, this goal has come to fruition and continues to grow as Usman now works towards taking steps up and down more independently. Conductive Education® showed Usman some skills he did not know he had and he practices these during other components of the program.  When Usman stands during baseball, he gets out of his chair and walks the bases.  Over the next week Usman will be working hard in Conductive Education® and he can hardly wait to go to the Rogers Centre to watch the baseball game.

LIFE Toronto program continues with the support of United Way TorontoTD Canada TrustToronto Community Foundation, and Royal Bank.

Meet Nektarios

Nektarios first came to March of DimesConductive Education® program in the summer of 2002 and started attending weekly classes soon after.  Twelve years on and Nek still attends CE classes whenever his schedule permits.  When asked why he still chooses to attend Nek says “To be perfectly honest, CE has been the best program for me.” Back in 2003 staff working with Nek introduced him to, and taught him how to walk first with two quad canes and then only one.  “It took me a year to get used to it and then every year after it became easier to me”.  Many services for children with cerebral palsy stop at the age of 19.  March of Dimes’ Canada Conductive Education® program is one of the few programs that extend the program to adults with CP and other neuro-motor disorders to learn the skills and techniques to overcome daily challenges.  Problem-solving skills are a key to gaining independence and Nek has made great gains in this.  Staff have enjoyed seeing how much Nek has progressed and grown over the years, always looking for news ways he can accomplish tasks more independently.  It has been wonderful to watch Nek grow into a young adult.  “He has learned the importance of maintaining his flexibility and strength and works hard each week to learn new skills that he can transfer into his everyday life.” says Mhairi Watson, Senior Conductor at March of Dimes Canada.  Nek has recently graduated from a three year degree program in Sports Management at Durham College and is currently looking for full time employment.

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Jess on L.I.F.E. Toronto Program

L.I.F.E. Toronto serves young people who have a physical disability and are making the transition into adulthood. The program provides participants with a learning environment to expand their social and professional skills while practicing the daily responsibilities of adulthood. L.I.F.E. Toronto’s goal is to bridge the gap between child and adult services by providing participants with new skills and resources. L.I.F.E. Toronto is a combination of Life Skills Workshops, Outward Bound Canada programming, weekly Social Outings, and Conductive Education.

Along with fun and adventure, participants experience some challenges. Indeed, the very purpose of the program is to help them find untapped resources within themselves and within the group, to help them discover that they are more capable than they know.

L.I.F.E. Toronto is a new program that continues with the support of United Way Toronto, TD Canada Trust, and Royal Bank.