Color & Control:

Up, up and away…

Today’s Kids sat down with 11-year old Sakina Shamsi, who is a Q Roll Model, to learn more about her ideas, her passions and her daily life…

Today’s Kids: What is your favourite part of being a Q Roll Model?

Sakina: I love meeting different people! And, the best part is seeing how much my friends and family support me in anything I do or post.

Today’s Kids: What do you want to show the world?

Sakina: That having a disability doesn’t stop kids from living their lives. We can still find ways to enjoy normal things, but in a modified way.

Today’s Kids: What do you like about your Edge 3/iLevel?

Sakina: My favourite part of moving up from my Q6 power chair is the iLevel. It would be wonderful if every wheelchair in the world could have it!

Today’s Kids: We understand one of your hobbies is baking.

Sakina: Yes, my favourite thing to cook is cupcakes because it’s fun to decorate them. With iLevel, I can reach the counter, the fridge and cupboards. I’m part of everything.

Today’s Kids: Prior to this school year, you were home-schooled. How was your first day of school?

Sakina: It was nerve wracking. Turns out I was more stressed out than I needed to be about whether kids would see me or just my wheelchair. Thankfully, everyone was friendly and helpful.

Today’s Kids: How does your power wheelchair help you at school?

Sakina: I am at iLevel for most of my day. It’s incredible that I can reach desks and roll down hallways at the same height as everyone. I can now do experiments in the science lab and sew in fashion class. I’m as independent as I want, but my attendant needs to be nearby at all times because of my weak immune system. (That’s why I was previously home-schooled.)

Today’s Kids: What’s the most exciting part about your life these days?

Sakina: Being an average 11-year old and interacting with other kids my age living nearby. I’ll bet I’m the only child who looks forward to going to school and having homework.

Today’s Kids: What has been the most difficult part?

Sakina: Finding a support worker who can keep up with me. It took a while to find someone who is a good fit.

Today’s Kids: Do you do any after school activities?

Sakina: Not yet, but I plan on joining the cooking club. I’m also looking forward to cruising the malls with only my friends – no parents! My wheelchair has given me newfound independence. Every day, I’m learning new ways to do things by myself because of my chair.

Today’s Kids: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sakina: I haven’t decided yet. The possibilities seem endless now. I really love babies so maybe become a teacher or work with little kids.

Today’s Kids: What’s one thing you want others to know/understand about having a disability?

Sakina: I’m a person too, who is cognitively the same as you. It’s okay to approach me. But please don’t always assume that just because I’m a wheelchair user that I can’t do what you are doing.

Today’s Kids: What’s one thing you want adults to know/understand about you?

Sakina: I’m still an average 11-year-old girl who feels and thinks the same as others. Don’t treat kids who live with disabilities as though they are broken or not capable. Challenge them and yourself to push your limits every day.

Today’s Kids: What advice would you give to parents when they find out that their child has a disability?

Sakina: The world as you know it isn’t over. I am proof that there are always different ways to enjoy life; you just have to change your approach. My parents love traveling and my disability never stopped them. We’ve been all over the world since I was a baby (Tanzania, India, Dubai, Mexico, Bahamas, England, etc.) We just find different ways to still do everything.

My advice: See your child for who they are and see past the disability. Fight every battle to the end for your child as my parents have done for me. Don’t ever give up on your child as he or she is counting on you.

As a Q Roll Model, Sakina won a four-month contract to represent Quantum Rehab on social media and at public events. She also received a brand new Edge 3 power wheelchair with iLevel.

What is Jooay?

Jooay is a free app that helps children with disabilities and their families to locate leisure opportunities that are: close to where they are, accessible, suit their needs and abilities, match their preferences, can help them develop and participate in society. Jooay is also a community, to help parents, rehabilitation professionals, educators to connect, exchange, and learn from each other.

The Jooay App was developed at McGill University by Dr. Keiko Shikako-Thomas and Dr. Annette Majnemer, occupational therapists and childhood disability researchers, in close collaboration with parents, rehabilitation professionals, policy makers, youth, physical educators and community partners.

Jooay is a growing virtual community. You can suggest new activities that you know of and are not listed. You can also flag activities that are no longer offered, or flag information that might be outdated. If you are an organization offering leisure activities for children with disabilities you can also send us and we will add it upon review.

Contact your Jooay provincial representative:

Dave Sora, Ontario

Mindy Tucker, Manitoba

Vincent Lefebvre, Quebec

Julie Brocklehurst, Newfoundland

Sarah Streisel, Saskatchewan

Linda Martin, Saskatchewan

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