By: Mike Long

 

I’m Mike and I’m almost 27 years old. In June 2018 I’m going to Romania for 2 weeks with 12 people (participants, staff and parents) from my day program Pathways.

7 years ago, a staff member from our program came back from volunteering in Romania. It created a connection with a program she started there called Mozaik. Since then we have sent two teams, one from Langley and one from Abbotsford, to volunteer there, and we’ve had 3 people from Romania come here to visit our program (in Langley, Abby and Chilliwack), to see how inclusion works here.

To me, inclusion means to get out in the community- not being a mushroom (where you’re kept in the dark). It means doing stuff in and for the community, like recreation, volunteering and working (like delivering papers, picking up littler and helping at a pre-school). In Romania we will stay at a day centre for 1 week.  We will go into schools and kid’s groups and teach about inclusivity and cultural diversity. Then for 1 week we will help run a camp for kids and young adults with disabilities.

While there I hope to learn some of their language, and teach them some English. I want to teach them about including people with disabilities in their school and communities. I can be a mentor, an ambassador of inclusion by giving hope for better future for people with disabilities. I’m also looking forward to seeing a new country, trying their food, meeting new people and making new friends.

To prepare I have to fundraise. We’re doing BBQs, popcorn sales and pub nights etc.. We have to budget, work on presentations, come up with craft ideas and learn kid songs, as well as learn about the culture there and what is appropriate.

After my trip I will write a follow up story to tell you how it went.