This #WeBelongWR story introduces us to Tim and his experience with Bridges to Belonging.
Tim is a charismatic, positive, friendly man who lives in Waterloo Region. He has two college diplomas, from Seneca & Conestoga College in Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering and is currently working on his third. In late 2015, Tim became involved with Bridges to Belonging, and was paired with Chaitali, his Independent Facilitator, to help him set goals and become connected with his community.
When Chaitali and Tim first met, Tim expressed some feelings of isolation, which prompted his first goal of connecting to more people. They began their journey by attending numerous community events such as Earth Day Eco Fest, the Dignity March, Jazzfest, and Indian Cultural Events. Chaitali and Tim have also explored many new hobbies such as Pickleball at RIM Park, as well as going to the movies with his friends.
One of their favourite things to do now is go to Games on Tap together twice a month with a group of individuals. They have now worked their way up to quite challenging games, and Tim has taken the lead by coordinating the games. His favourite game? Superfight. He explained how it helps with his debate and conversation skills as the players are asked to select a super hero, and grab 3 attribute cards to pair with their hero, while debating and defending their choices throughout. Tim is also very good at Mensa games and has made many friendships with the individuals in the group. Since they started at Games on Tap over a year and a half ago, there are now 8 regular friends who join them, and the group is continuing to grow. Chaitali gushed that “he is a great motivator!” as Tim is now encouraging his friends from Games on Tap to also set goals such as seeking paid-employment. Over the past year and a half with Chaitali, Tim has made meaningful connections with members of his community, and is confident enough now to explore many of these opportunities further on his own without the assistance of his Independent Facilitator.
Some of the bigger goals that Tim has set included finding a part-time volunteer experience, which has recently begun. Tim is now a volunteer Mathematics Tutor at Frontier College, which he “considers an honour due to the College usually only accepting university students”. As a college student, Tim feels like they made a “wonderful exception” for him. Tim is now teaching Number Ninjas for the first time, working with kids to “make math fun” by incorporating the use of games to assist in mathematical concepts. Chaitali grinned with happiness as she explained how “great Tim is at teaching!” Chaitali assisted in many of the steps leading up to this opportunity, including helping Tim get a Police Check.
Tim also wanted to increase his positive health behaviours, which included filling up his schedule to keep his time busy, attending local cooking classes (Tim now makes a delicious Miso soup) and stress relief practices. Sometimes exploration takes trial and error experiences, and Tim explained a time when Chaitali took him to a stress relief Mandala Drawing workshop. Although he enjoyed the colouring aspect, he did not find the workshop relaxing, but he agreed to try it once and from there they explored other options. They have now found that a good source of stress relief for Tim is reading books, so they find themselves frequently at Chapters together exploring book titles. Goals revolving around organization and increased planning skills have also been achieved to the point where Tim is almost too busy to fit Chaitali into his schedule!
Yet another massive accomplishment that Tim has made since paired with Chaitali is an international speech in Vietnam with Autism Awareness. Tim, alongside his parents, travelled overseas so that he could tell his story to a large group of high ranking individuals. Chaitali and Tim in the weeks of preparation constructed a speech and PowerPoint presentation. Leading up to this experience Chaitali also found a self-advocacy, speech group with Extend-A-Family Waterloo and felt that Tim could gain a plethora of skills from attending including eye contact, confidence and clarity. After the international speaking opportunity, Tim now continues to attend the speech group without Chaitali, getting great feedback from the judges involved.
Tim and Chaitali have conquered a lot of goals in the past year and a half and do not plan on slowing down. Looking into the future, Tim has large goals that he will be tackling with the assistance of Chaitali and Bridges to Belonging including finding paid part-time employment. Tim is currently enrolled in Quality Assurance courses part time in the evenings, which will hopefully get him to his final goal while Chaitali will be assisting with the resume writing process, searching for job opportunities and interview preparation.
“What do I want in a job? Practical and thinking, I want both!”
He is taking all the right steps towards being job ready by recently attaining his First Aid & CPR training certificate on top of his recent volunteer opportunity. All of these aspects will increase his confidence and skill set for future endeavours. With his strong and ever-growing initiative and communication skills, Chaitali is confident that Tim will find employment.
Tim loves that Bridges to Belonging is person-directed, as he found some of the services he used in the past tried to tell him what his hobbies and goals should be, instead of listening to what he wanted. He enjoys that he has a voice with Independent Facilitation and that he is heard. Plus, the goal orientation works for him: “I always go by goals. I have for my whole life.” He describes belonging to be a lot like inclusion by “incorporating everybody without the discrimination of disability, race, or gender. Everybody should be included!”
Currently, Chaitali is setting up opportunities for Tim’s goal of independent living in the community by working with Jessica from Bridges to Belonging’s project Be At Home to explore Tim’s creative housing options. This summer Tim and Chaitali are also planning on trying new hobbies such as lawn bowling, and increasing his independence by focusing on bus training with the GRT. Tim is very proud of his progress so far with the assistance of Independent Facilitation and is excited for what is to come.