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Volunteer Voices

Volunteer Voices

We sat down with one of our wonderful volunteers, Alexa who was recently accepted into the Cumming School of Medicine.

What are you doing right now? School? Where and what degree? What are you hoping to do as a career?I’m currently a Masters student at the University of Calgary studying Neuroscience. The lab that I am apart of conducts research in clinical stroke rehabilitation and my project specifically focuses on understanding how stroke survivors get better throughout therapy using robotics!

Just recently, I was accepted into the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, which officially puts me into the Leaders in Medicine program. This allows me to complete my research before I attend medical school. My dream is to one day practice as a neurologist, so this brings me one step closer to that goal!

I can honestly say I would not be here without ARBI. Watching the clients at ARBI push so hard every day made me wish I could do more for them, and so I was inspired to pursue research in stroke rehabilitation. My time at ARBI has definitely had a lasting impact on me and I am so thankful for all the people at ARBI, staff and clients, who have gotten me to this point.

Could you please walk us through a day at ARBI?

I think for anyone starting with a new client, it definitely takes a bit of time to make those close connections. For Ken, I think he needed to make sure I was worthy of his jokes first. After that, I think we were able to talk a bit more about ourselves and bond about things we had in common. In my time with Ken, I learned a lot about his family, his interests, etc. For example, I learned about his absolute love for his wife and children. So much so we figured out that this was a huge motivator for him and his walking goals. He wants to be able to walk for his son’s graduation and for the day his daughter gets married. I also discovered his love for the Eagles and we’d often play their songs for him while working on his PT program. He also loves baked goods and Sharon, his OT, used this discovery to her advantage to encourage him to work on remembering the names and faces of the people he sees at ARBI (he was rewarded with chocolate chip cookies when he correctly remembered that Sharon bakes cookies and Carmela bakes cakes). The more I learned about Ken, the more it seemed like he was encouraged to have conversation because we had interesting things to talk about. By the end of our time together, I think I would consider us pals and I am very excited to attend his graduation. I’m very proud of him.

Can you retell a very special or memorable moment you had at ARBI 

While I was working with Ken, another client, Kristen, was also attending ARBI. Ken and Kristen have a very special relationship and always loved seeing each other at ARBI. I remember when it was almost time for Kristen to graduate and we wanted to do something special to send her off. The music therapist thought it would be a great idea for Ken to learn a song and sing for her before she was done her program at ARBI. We settled on ‘Lean On Me’ and spent the next few weeks learning and practicing the song during music therapy. On one of her last days, we gathered in the music room, and Ken had invited his wife and daughter to join in on the occasion. Kristen sat there and smiled while Ken sang to her and it was an incredibly beautiful moment.

From all of us here at ARBI, thank you for your passion and commitment and all the best in your studies.

Rewire - Fall 2019
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