Let me introduce you to my family, we are a trio motivated by Kindness and our love for each other. My name is Leslie, I'm a high school teacher, Abby is 12 and is unique, creative and a little quirky and Calum is 10, he is patient, funny and fills a room with his smile.
We have tried to live our lives to not be burdened by things we can not change...but to change/educate people about the power of kindness and the impact it can have on people. We, as a family have been lucky enough to learn this lesson first hand by the generosity of our friends, family and strangers.
Calum has a condition called Spinal Muscle Atrophy with Respiratory Distress (SMARD). SMARD truly is unkind. The brief story, because it's not the important story, is Calum went into respiratory distress at 4 weeks old, by 3 months he was trached and needed to be on life support because he could no longer breath on his own. He stayed over 6 months in the ICU at McMaster Children's hospital and wasn’t diagnosed until he was 7 years old. This is a very rare condition with only hundreds of children worldwide diagnosed with it. Calum can no longer move at all, he can’t swallow, breath, or even hold up his own head. Communication is a struggle but his facial expressions tell us amazing stories. He communicates only with his eyes and expressions. He has a special computer system that he can control completely with his eyes, he is learning to express himself and his funny personality is shining through. He is in a regular classroom at school with the help of a nurse at his side constantly and educational assistants to help with daily learning….plus some amazing classmates that are truly Powered by Kindness!
Abby is a wonderful advocate and teacher for and about her brother. She has taught me how to just roll with the punches. She is patient and is her brother's favourite person with her quirks and silliness. She plays hide and seek with him, shows him cool YouTube videos and is always up to some crazy (messy) experiment. She understands her brothers disabilities but doesn't see them as barriers just obstacles that need creativity, imagination and kindness to overcome.
Calum is a unique kid who with very minimal ability to communicate says volumes. He teaches people, who take the time to listen, things that we could never teach even with all the words in the world. His impact on people is something I am so lucky to be able to witness.
My children bring me so much happiness it really is difficult to be saddened by SMARD. DON’t get me wrong it 100% sucks and we all hate it but somehow we have managed not to allow it to overpower our spirits (at least most days). I actually think in some crazy way it has taught us how to be more happy and loving. We have certainly been blessed by Kindness that definitely would not have been apart of our lives otherwise. And that we are all truly thankful for.