Gavin: The journey toward confidence
When Gavin Pandher had a stroke in 2004 at the age of 12, the loss that hit him hardest was not so much the use of his right leg, it was the loss of confidence. Most 12-year-olds are just blossoming into increased independence and beginning to build confidence. It was a hard blow for Gavin.
Gavin remembers, “It was hard for me because I used to be able to do everything on my own. It changed me a lot. It made me unhappy, because suddenly people had to take care of me again. I wanted to do things myself.”
The years of therapy have been demanding. There was occupational therapy and clinic treatments with Botox. Now, in 2011, the 18-year-old walks with the help of a leg brace and with a renewed sense of confidence.
Gavin has had to overcome some difficulty but he’s come a long way and he knows it. “I used to be unable to walk at all. I can actually walk now, instead of being trapped in a wheelchair,” says Gavin.
Gavin had misgivings about joining the Independent Living Program (ILP) at first. The ILP helps youth ages 16 to 19 with physical or developmental challenges develop living skills by living independently for two weeks in a supported environment. Gavin remembers, “At first I didn’t really want to be here. I was nervous about being alone.” But he soon realized that he wasn’t alone – that’s the whole point of the ILP. While having different challenges, the whole group of young adults were able to share in a common experience of independence. Like the ILP grads, Gavin learned he was not alone and that gave him confidence for the future. Gavin asserts, “It’s gone very well. I feel more confident than I’ve ever felt before. I’ve done things I haven’t done before. I’ve cooked things I never thought I could. I’m more outgoing now. It helped me make friends.”
Next on Gavin’s agenda is to finish high school, then move onto Sheridan College to study accounting.
Gavin adds, “I want to live on my own. I don’t know if my parents will be all right with that, but I want to. This has been a really good experience, teaching me how. Now I want to see if I can do it.”
New experiences promoted new ideas for Gavin to consider. His leg brace, for example, is not supposed to get wet, so when it came time to participate in sailing offered in the ILP, one would assume he’d have to opt out. But opting out is not what the ILP coaches. With a little help, he came up with the simple idea of using a household green trash bag to wrap the brace for waterproofing. Then he weighed anchor. With the help of the ILP, Gavin improvised, adapted and overcame. That’s what independence is about.
Gavin: “I got to meet new people I would never have met. I can do new things I’d never have done before. Like sailing! It felt really good to do that, instead of just being stranded alone.”
Last Modified: 7/3/2012 3:34:00 PM