The Cantiguan Convoy Takes on Week Three by Karen Vaughan

14 05 2017

My name is Karen Vaughan and I have just finished my second year in the Kinesiology program at the University of the Fraser Valley. I am currently striving towards finishing my degree and beginning my journey to become a physiotherapist or anything to do with physical rehab. When I first heard about this program, I knew I had to take part because although I am not pursuing a career in teaching, I think that being educated in health and fitness is so important and everyone should be exposed to it. Also, whether it be teaching someone a new exercise or teaching someone to read a book, being able to simplify a concept for someone to understand, is such an important skill to have, and I know already that this program will enhance my ability to do so.

 I have been placed at the schools Adele and Victory along with my teaching partners Elena Pinder and Marissa Lucas. Adele and Victory are schools specifically for students with cognitive or physical needs who require additional assistance. Adele has five classrooms with about fifteen students in each class. One class at Adele, has a few students with Cerebral Palsy which is a physical disorder that makes being mobile quite difficult in most cases. With the varying disabilities these students have, adapting our lesson plans can be tough, but the students are so willing to keep trying even if it is challenging. At Victory, it is a bit of a different situation, as there are only twelve students in the school with varied ability levels. In such a small school with a handful of teachers, it almost feels like a family that they have welcomed us into. Although I was quite nervous at the beginning, as this is my first experience working with children in this contex, the students have given me such confidence with their unconditional love and laughter. Over the past couple weeks, we have been able to make great bonds with each student as well as with the teachers. Each class has different challenges that we have to face with as much energy as we can provide, but the teachers are phenomenal at both schools and are very willing to give us tips on how to actively engage each student no matter what they are capable of.

Along with the other teachers at Adele, we are working with the physical education specialist Miss Noelle. She has given us a lot of advice about how to teach each student individually, specifically, what will work and what will not. As Miss Noelle is new here at Adele, our program is also new to her, but she has welcomed us with open arms and is very interested in our ideas. Most of the other teachers at Adele and Victory have been involved in our program for many years now, but are still so enthusiastic and involved in our work. These teachers do a fantastic job and you can see the overwhelming impact they have had on these students. Due to the passion and enthusiasm that the teachers bring to the schools everyday, it was an exciting evening hosting them at the annual Cantiguan barbeque to have some food, collaborate, and thank them for their amazing work last night. It was fantastic seeing such powerful, influential individuals come together to have a great time and crush it on the karaoke stage.

This morning, we met our tour guides (Marissa, Kirsten, Christine, Dan, Blair and Dr. Sheppard) in their fancy Canadian visors, to convoy us around the island in our wonderful matching rental cars. We got into the cars not knowing what this tour involved, but the drivers had made a CD with a theme song for each stop we went to as a hint. Our first stop was the Devil’s Bridge, which is an important historical piece of Antigua. During the many years of slavery, this is where victims went to take their lives. Knowing this fact just made the stop more powerful and memorable. After this, we stopped next two weeks have in store for us.

As a final note, I wanted to thank Dr. Sheppard for this fantastic program that she has sustained for over a decade, as well as everyone who has been following this incredible journey. I also wanted to specifically thank all the moms for all the love and support. The champs and I want to wish you all a wonderful Mothers’ Day! Aaaand Happy Birthday to one of our champs Brianna!

Karen Vaughn
Adele/Victory Centre





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