The Herbers Family

APRIL 20, 2016

What would having an inclusive centre in St. Albert would mean to me and my family?

In a recent discussion with the founder of Plugged In, we discussed the possibility of a centre that would accept and care for both of my daughters needs. Sheila went on to explain her vision is to have an inclusive centre that would be open not only to individuals with special needs, but also typical individuals. That instead of trying to make those of us with different needs fit into the typical world — regular ice rinks, regular pools, typical gyms, normal gymnastics areas, that we would have a place designed for special needs individuals, that would also be inclusive to typical individuals.

So instead, we would design a centre to fit the needs of those of us who are square pegs, trying so very hard to fit into round holes — those of us who also need to be seen and heard. Those of us with ADHD or Autism or Downs Syndrome or any other diagnosis or non-diagnosis, those of us that do things a bit differently, and have a few more needs than “normal.”

Our family, the Herbers family, fully supports the creation of an inclusive centre in St. Albert. We need this centre for all of our citizens. We need this centre so that we feel part of our community — so that we’re no longer labelled or shamed with our special requests at school and programs that have been developed for typical individuals.

We have unique needs, unique wants, and it’s time that our voices are heard. I challenge all of St. Albert, and all residents of Alberta to donate to Plugged In and help our dream come true of creating a 100% inclusive space — a space where no one stares, and instead we talk, we engage, we play, we adapt, we listen, we revise, and we think outside of the box. Let’s help to fit square pegs into their community!

Christina Herbers,

Christina, Jaina and Addison Herbers

St. Albert resident since 2006 and mother of two daughters ages 10 and 7 — Jaina, who happens to travel on a pretty pink wheelchair, and her sister Addison who loves soccer, ballet, singing, and forever playing with her sister’s long hair.

This family would love nothing more than a facility in their community where they can enjoy activities together as a family  – where the community is free to engage in conversation with them about both the joys and challenges of having two beautiful children, without the worry of Jaina’s needs defining them as a family. This is what Plugged In is all about!

The Devolder Family

APRIL 20, 2016

We are the parents of a happy, healthy and beautiful 8 year old girl named Mya. She is non-verbal and has been diagnosed with a Global Learning Disability. Every day is a learning experience for our family as we are always figuring out new ways to better understand our daughter’s needs and ways to communicate with her.

When we met Sheila and her team a few years ago we were feeling broken and vulnerable as we had difficulty staying with a day home, always being told Mya was just not the “right fit.” We wondered ‘where will we fit in?’ Trying to find specialized extracurricular programs that understood her needs and could appropriately support her was not only challenging but really didn’t exist.

From the moment our home intervention team recommended Infinite Resources Inc. to us, our entire world changed to say the least. Mya was welcomed with open arms. The staff has a level of patience, determination, and compassion for these children who all come with their own unique challenges.

I remember witnessing another new family bringing their child to an IRInc. program for the first time. The child was melting down from entering this new environment with all new faces. The staff were very patient, and they reassured the mother with “Don’t worry, we’ve got this” and “Go downstairs and give us 15 minutes and then come back up.” The mother’s distress was evident while she could hear her child. I offered my own reassurance that the staff are amazing.

We soon came to realize that this is an organization that we would do anything for, and have most recently contacted the ELLEN show about Sheila’s vision to bring inclusion into the community.

This fundraiser is only the beginning of our family’s commitment to make the Plugged In Community Centre a reality. Infinite Resources Inc. has done so much for Mya and our family. The community needs and deserves a venue to serve as a catalyst for organizations like Infinite Resources Inc. – a place where families with unique children can be who they’re meant to be.

Shawna & Brent

Mya and Sheila

The Gareau Family

JULY 05, 2014

Hi, my name is Jamie Gareau. I met Sheila a few years ago, soon after my son Alex–who has Down syndrome–was also diagnosed with autism.
At that point in Alex’s life his father and I felt like we were kind of going nowhere–and literally we could hardly bring him anywhere. A simple trip to the grocery store for us was an ordeal. Alex was having a really hard time adjusting to the world around him. It was hard to watch our son and not be able to help him. We were an active family, we loved going out, socializing with people, enjoying the outdoors but we couldn’t go anywhere with Alex. It almost felt like we were housebound.

I met with Sheila at our home, and it was during this dark time, and as we were sitting there and I was crying–and my son was crying–I thought Sheila was just going to think that I should be committed. She told me that I was an amazing mom, that we would get through this, and that Alex’s behaviors weren’t the end of the world. I think we live in a society that’s still so preoccupied with the normal, with children behaving a certain way in public, with being seen and not heard, and seen to be perfect. Sheila got me thinking, Who cares if people are looking at you? Who really cares what they’re thinking about us? So from the moment I met her, it was like Sheila gave me permission to let Alex just be who he is.

Along with that precious gift Sheila also started working with us and with Alex. With her compassionate philosophy, glass half full of hope and a bucket full of strategies, she gave me all these tools that helped Alex be a part of the world and to help shape the world for Alex.
About four months later I asked Sheila if she’d heard about these Gym Buddies and Small Talk groups and whether Alex might be a good candidate for them. Turns out these were Sheila’s groups through Infinite Resources Inc. She welcomed Alex into them with open arms.

The moment Alex started Gym Buddies is so huge for me. Of course I couldn’t leave him there, even though Sheila told me I could leave–not at first–so I stuck around and watched the staff with Alex. It was amazing. Even though he’s nonverbal they always treated him like someone who had something to say. This isn’t just Sheila; the whole IRInc staff has always treated Alex with respect, dignity and love.
This is our fourth year with IRInc, whether it’s Gym Buddies, summer camps or structured play dates. Today Alex is so happy to go to Gym Buddies and play with his friends. When we pick him up from these activities Alex has a little more spring in his step. We can tell how good he feels about himself, how proud he is. That feeling stays with him, and it’s made me realize how important it is for him to have this place–where he can shine.

The Plugged IN Community Centre Organization wants to ensure that there is always a place for children to be acknowledged, accepted and connected to the community – to shine!

Today Alex is a child who can sit at assembly at school with 300 cheering kids and though he might cover his ears and give a couple yells, he doesn’t panic, he’s not afraid of the wide world. I 100% believe this would not have been possible without the support of the IR Inc team.

We also have two younger children, both neurotypical. We’ve been able to include our daughter in camps and play dates with IRInc and we’ve seen that these are also benefiting her. She gets to see her brother in a different light, and to see the respect he gets from IRInc staff. She brings that home and I think it gives her the confidence and understanding to love her brother too. Come September she would like to drop out of her dance classes and join Gym Buddies instead–at her request. She loves the positive atmosphere and the opportunity to just be herself with peers. What I’m trying to say is that IRInc hasn’t just been good to Alex. They’ve been life-savers, and they have helped our whole family.

In the future it’s my hope that this incredible company can continue to grow, can expand and help other families. I also hope that Infinite Resources Inc. will be around to keep helping Alex with the challenges he faces.

With the support of the community, through donations and contributions to PICCO, many families just like Jamie and Alex will be able to continue to utilize programs like IRInc’s and so many more with in this inclusive and for community facility!

**Imagine if every day, every time you went out with your spouse or parent nobody would talk to you–they would always ask the person with you how you’re doing, what you’d like to do, what you’d like to eat–how frustrating that would be. Wouldn’t you want some place to go have fun and live life with respect and dignity. Sheila and the wonderful individuals she’s recruited–they just get it.
Sincerely Jamie Gareau

The Daoust Family

JULY 05, 2014

Our relationship with Infinite Resources started 3 years ago, for our son Callum, who is on the Autism Spectrum. Callum’s social anxiety, rigidity, sensory sensitivities, and rule-bound behaviour, led to failed attempts at community soccer, ski lessons, and even pre-school.

It was in pre-school that we really saw Callum struggle with participation and forming relationships with his peers. Our fear was that Callum’s challenges, in unsupported environments, would lead to his exclusion.

Our experience with Infinite Resources Inc. started with a day camp. On the first day, my wife Heather, brought Callum to the gym, turned him over to the staff, and proceeded to find herself a comfortable spot on the side to sit for the duration of the session, ready to jump in at that inevitable moment when Callum would melt down. It was then that Sheila stepped in, assured Heather that Callum was in capable hands and that she was free to leave. In fact, Sheila insisted that Heather leave, recognizing the toll being taken on her. Needless to say, the camp went very well, and we continued with numerous days camps, sessions of Gym Buddies, and now Small Talk.

While we’ve gotten a lot from Infinite Resources Inc. , I must say that there are two things that have really stood out for us:

1) First, the staff have shown us what Callum is capable of when he is supported. Before this, the focus had always been on what Callum could not do, and on the times that he failed. It was amazing to have the support of staff, highlighting his strengths and celebrating his wins!

2) Secondly, Infinite Resources Inc. has helped Callum develop his social skills, his coping skills, and his self- awareness. This growth has helped Callum to become more flexible and resilient, resulting in healthier connections with his peers.

Now finishing grade 1, Callum succeeds in the classroom, participates in most activities, and is better able to recognize when a situation may be too challenging for him. He has positive interactions with his peers regularly and is forming important relationships with his friends. It is this ability to connect that has been the most rewarding. Callums’ struggles to find ways to connect were resulting in dysfunctional behaviours and actions that were damaging to his relationships and causing him a great deal of anxiety and emotional strain.

By learning how to connect with others, Callum now feels supported, valued and worthy. And so do we.

This has all been life-changing for us. We are eager for other families to access the support and connections that we have. The Plugged IN Community Centre will facilitate support to families by helping them connect with community members, programs, and resources. While relationships grow, evolve, and change, they need a home in which to start and The Plugged In Community Centre will be just that!