At Simcoe Community Services we love to be inspired.
Meet two and half year old twin brothers Zachary and Izaiah Zak . These two little guys have smiles that will melt away the coldest Simcoe County day. Zachary, eldest by two minutes is the sensitive one. “It’s crazy how kind he is,” observes Mom Stephanie Zak. “He’s always watching out for his little brother to make sure Izaiah has a toy. Mind you, five minutes later, he’s trying to take it away from him.” Izaiah, on the other hand, is the crowd pleaser. “He’s so good at reading people and doing whatever he can to make you laugh. He’s just so content,” says Stephanie.
Izaiah’s easy going, good natured personality is hard to believe considering the challenges he and his brother faced just to get here. It was at Stephanie’s 20 week ultrasound that she was told one of her twins had Fetal Akinesia, a condition characterized by decreased fetal movement. Stephanie, recalling her pregnancy, says “The doctors presented us with a lot of ‘what ifs’. Would you like full resuscitation or not for one or both babies? It was a very stressful time”. Once Stephanie met with a genetic counsellor and was presented with all her options, it was a no brainer. There was no doubt in her mind that she was going to wait and see what happened.
Izaiah was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition that limits the use of his wrists, elbows, legs and ankles. Through physiotherapy and the ongoing support of Simcoe Community Services, he’s come a long way.
SCS Resource Teacher Kandace Kriese admits, “Izaiah really makes my job so easy because he communicates so well and because he’s so confident”. Kriese’s main responsibility is to bring Izaiah’s clinical team together, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Communication to Stephanie is also a top priority. “We want to have a joyful and happy presence for Izaiah rather than a treatment and therapeutic presence, otherwise he’s uncomfortable and in pain,” adds Kriese. She and the therapists accomplish goals for Izaiah through play and appropriate activities that support his optimum development.
For the Zak family this means peace of mind. “Simcoe Community Services has been unreal” says Stephanie. “From providing information and resources, connecting us to funding, and answering all of my questions, it’s so nice to have people who just know. Simcoe Community Services has just been so super accommodating.”
When asked what her dream is for her two boys, Stephanie responds, “I hope they grow up to be the type of boys who are accepting and helpful of all people from all walks of life. Zachary has already learned so much from Izaiah; that you can do things differently. The biggest focus now is getting Izaiah walking. My dream is to see him one day outside running around with his brother and to be independent on his own terms. That’s what we want.”
Knowing big goals start with small steps, Simcoe Community Services looks forward to helping make that dream come true for Izaiah and his family.
Joey Hughes is one huge superhero fan! When he was told there was a Superhero Stomp at Heritage Park in
September, he jumped at the opportunity to participate. Surrounded by people of all ages dressed as their
favourite superhero, Joe was quick to point out his favourites and even gave the odd person a fist bump of
approval! What really made his day was when he joined the crowd of superheroes as Barrie’s own Dark Knight. To add to the superhero fun, Joe even got to have a Batman symbol painted on his face and go inside of a fire truck. When informed that everyone was dressed as a superhero because they are supporting children who are battling like superheroes in their fight against cancer, Joe walked with pride with his head held high and Batman cape flying behind him. Joe was asked if it felt good to support such a good cause and he gave his biggest superhero smile! To this day, Joey is still showing off his Batman cape with great pride. Thanks for being our hero Joey.
Cory loves everything to do with his neighbourhood, and community. He always has a great big smile and a friendly word, accompanied with a handshake or a high five, to all who cross his path. Although he loves participating in community events, Cory has a special place in his heart for those that work hard to keep his community clean and safe.
Cory especially likes the City of Barrie Maintenance workers, who drive the recycling trucks. Every Wednesday Cory waits to hear the sounds of the trucks coming down the street as they collect all of the bottles, paper and cardboard from the blue bins. As each truck goes by, Cory is there with a smile and a wave to cheer them on. Offering a word of thanks, and a bottle of water on the warm days, many of the drivers now know Cory by name, and enjoy honking the horn for him as they drive past. Wednesday is a day that Cory now looks forward to. He has even struck up a relationship with one of the drivers. When their truck stops at Cory’s house they put the emergency brake on so that he can hop into the cab to pull the horn himself, ending with their own special handshake.