Gliding Towards Acceptance

Name: Jessica Lim
From: Toronto, Ontario
Votes: 0

They say that we have one hand to give with, and another to receive. We
live in a world that emphasizes “equity” though, and I believe
some people have more to give, and others need to receive. As a girl
from of visible minority, I am well-versed to the pain and inaccuracy
of labels, and that encouraged me to help ensure that prejudice and
assumptions become lesser issues in society. As an athlete, when I
came across Scarborough Civitan Gliders, a not-for-profit
organization whose goal is to provide recreation programs to children
suffering from mental illnesses, I knew it was the perfect place for

Gliders gives such youth the opportunity to partake in normal activities,
while ensuring that their individual needs (ranging from mild to more
severe mental conditions) are all safely taken care of. Volunteering
for a few hours at their weekly skating program that took place at a
local ice rink, allowed me the chance to be a part of an initiative
that makes such a positive difference in the lives of others. The two
years I volunteered definitely stood out as being exceptionally
valuable for not only the community, but also my personal growth.

            While many people look at programs for disabled children as pity programs
or glorified pre-school, the truth is that they are so much more, and
the kids in the program are so much more than the label that is
slapped upon them. I always made it a point to interact with the kids
in individually-designed ways, not only to ensure the most out of the
two hour skating program, but also because they deserve to be treated
as the special person they are.

I remember on my first day, I met a girl close to my age who was
terrified of skating. When I convinced her to try something new and
taught her the basics, the outcome was tremendous. Through
encouragement and support, I helped a girl take her scary first steps
on ice, and over the weeks, proudly watched as she grew stronger and
braver, her confidence rising and her face beaming with pride when
she walked up to get her certificate at the final banquet.

Anotherlittle  boy I met was a fabulous skater, and although I couldn’t
teach him much on the ice, I became a friend with whom he could have
invaluable conversations. Gliders gave these children a unique
opportunity for happiness and pride, and those emotions were
reflected within myself, as the inspirational people surrounding me
helped me grow as a person.

When I look at the programs that are available to the community, it instills hope within me that the world
will be a more just place tomorrow. Being able to help people feel as
if they belong to society was a blessing for myself as well, and my
hope is that in the future, this amazing feat will be nothing but the
ordinary, because that would mean our world is a more accepting