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Cody beside river in the mountainsCanadian Down Syndrome Week is celebrated annually from November 1 – a week that aims to encourage the inclusion of people with Down Syndrome, while working to dispel myths and sterotypes. Created by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, this week celebrates people with Down syndrome and teaches others to See the Ability, highlighting that all people are valued, fully participating citizens.

YWCA Edmonton’s Disability Services department works with a number of people with Down Syndrome – we create opportunities for each individual to enhance their quality of life through goal setting and personal achievement. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for many, we continue to focus on maintaining and growing the supportive relationships we have with our Disability Services clients. Throughout it all, we strive to empower individuals to achieve their full potential with the support of their community.

We first introduced you to Cody Strass in our 2018 Annual Report. Cody has Down Syndrome and a mild speech impediment, and has been working with YWCA’s Disability Services for 17 years. While there was a brief pause in our service delivery when the pandemic first hit, Cody eagerly jumped straight into a new routine of support once YWCA Edmonton resumed our host and community respite early in the summer.

Since the pandemic began, Cody hasn’t been able to see much of his extended family, though he optimistically admits that “it’s OK,” knowing that one day the pandemic will be behind us. In the meantime, Cody continues to build strong relationships with his contractors, all of whom strictly follow all health protocols in place. Cody has known one of host respite contractors (and her family) for over 20 years, and he has been participating in meal preparation and cooking while staying with them. He still loves wrestling on Monday nights and spends his down time solving puzzle books.

Physical Activity is a big component of Cody’s plan: he enjoys the trail system at his favourite local park every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; it’s good exercise, and Cody enjoys monitoring his steps through an app on his cellphone. Tuesdays and Thursdays are swim days for Cody, and while enjoying the pool at the St. Albert Rec Centre, he also loves to practice diving and just having fun tossing a ball around with others in the water.

Although current restrictions prohibit in-person attendance, Cody continues to participate online in faith services, and maintains relationships through social media platforms. Recently, Cody has started dating a woman he has met in his community. When asked how things have been going, Cody replied, “Good, I have been doing great during the pandemic.”

Through the continued caring supports provided by YWCA Disability Services, Cody and others are not only surviving the pandemic, but thriving. This is what happens when you are able to See The Ability