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Why I Became a Respite Provider

December 14, 2015

Posted in: Uncategorized

Recently, I was asked why I became a respite contractor. In a nutshell, the answer is quite simple…to make a difference.

I am a graduate of the Developmental Service Worker Program from Cambrian College.  I have been fortunate enough to have worked in variety of diversified workplace settings.  I have worked in a segregated school, where each student in that school had a special need.  I have worked in a children’s group home where all children who called it home had a severe exceptionality.  I also have worked in segregated classrooms where students were integrated within their school community.  Currently, I am an Educational Assistant at a local school in the Parry Sound area, working in a variety of classrooms, serving a variety of children and their individual needs.

No matter what the case, the complexity of the child, or the work environment, each person and experience has left a memorable impression on me.

My job as a children’s respite contractor for almost the past seventeen years is no different. It is rewarding and it is always changing. For me, it‘s helping with the homework that a child needs to get caught up on, in order to get that high school credit.  It’s doing physio with someone and seeing the improvements that that child is making.  It’s helping to run a Day Camp, so that parents of children with special needs can network.  It’s having a conversation with a teacher, and figuring out what you can do to help make a child successful at school and then seeing that confidence grow. It’s tutoring and watching a 12-year-old smile because she got an A on her math test. It is teaching a child how to read and then teaching that same child, who is now a teenager, to study for his driver’s license. It is teaching a teenager how to cook or bake and then allowing her to take her culinary masterpiece home for her parents to try. It is pairing up kids with other kids to allow them to make new friendships and develop new social skills, who might not otherwise be able to so. It’s taking kids on a boat ride and watching how excited they are because they have never been on a boat before. And just last week, it was watching a young lady’s face light up because she decorated a gingerbread house for the first time and got to take it home.  These are only some of the many reasons why I am a respite contractor.

I am definitely not saying it is not without its challenges, but the rewards are worth it and the positives sure do outweigh any little hiccup along the way. It changes your perspective on life, it really does.  My own children have learned to be more caring and compassionate people. They understand that sometimes, some kids need to work a little bit harder.  I don’t see myself as a champion for the “underdog” and I use that word loosely. Not in the slightest. I have been so lucky to work with so many different children and their families along the way.  What I have come to realize over two decades is that even though I am the one doing the teaching, these same kids will never understand exactly what they have taught me.

– Carrie Reed

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