World Down Syndrome Day in Lethbridge

Hey everyone! It’s Brandon!

This year I hosted a bowling event for World Down Syndrome Day here in Lethbridge, Alberta at Holiday Bowl. I invited people who have different abilities, their families, and some of their support staff. We played two games of 5 pin bowling, and we had cake.IMG_1534

Between games we had planned on taking a break to “Dance On 3/21”. But we had problems with our sound equipment. This was still a really awesome event and it was over 36 people in total that attended. The best part was I got to meet some new people. I hope to do this again as one of my projects to celebrate NDSAW in November.

How did you celebrate WDSD?

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Meet Natalie!

We are excited to announce we have a new VATTA member! Please read below to learn more about her.

Hello! My name is Natalie. I am 28 years old and I live in Calgary, Alberta. There are 6 kids in my family and I’m the 4th. My family is getting bigger, I have 3 nephew and 2 nieces, and 2 more babies on the way.


Me with Mayor Nenshi!

I work 2 mornings a week at Primed, it’s a medical brush company where I do mailing, packaging and labeling. I love my job! I also work with my support worker 5 afternoons a week and we do history, spelling, practice piano, workout and run errands. I do my own laundry and help out with chores around the house.

I am very busy. I practice karate 4 times a week and often get to travel to competitions. Last year I went to Germany and I finished in 8th place. This year I’m going to Austria and I’m going to finish in first place if I work hard. I always work hard and eat healthy!


Me doing my Kata at a karate competition in Vancouver where I finished in first place.

I am also in grade 1 piano and I practice almost every day. In my spare time I like to write stories and then act them out. Right now I’m writing a story that is a cross between The Pirates of the Caribbean and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I also sing in the choir at my church and I sometimes get to play the prelude music for the women’s meeting.

I am so excited to be on VATTA!

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An Update on Jessie Huggett


We would like to update everyone about Jessie Huggett, VATTA member since 2013. After having her first stroke last summer, Jessie was diagnosed with Moyamoya disease.

Find out more about Jessie’s recovery in this CBC interview and here is her Fundrazr page. See the incredible work that Jessie has done in her community and with VATTA in the video Picture The Possibilities.

Her absence from the VATTA team has been sorely missed and the entire CDSS family wishes her the best.

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Trying New Things!


2 It’s not often that people choose to be so daring, so daring like skydiving from a plane and getting a thrill of a lifetime. Soaring through the sky, being attached to an experienced skydiving teacher, feeling the dream and the breeze, and holding on for dear life.
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I have experienced all of this! It was on a cool and crisp Saturday November afternoon with my other daring friend Erin. I have always wanted to skydive, I wanted a thrill in my life! My brother Oliver and my sister Katie did the jump in Switzerland in 2009 too.5
If self-advocates want a thrill of a lifetime go for it. Trying new things can be big or small. You can start small, or you can start big! My advice to you is always dream big, never let anyone tell you your dream either.You can dream about a job, college or university, anything! Try something that might make you nervous.

Let me know in the comments below what new things you’d like to try!



Watch the video of my skydive below!

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Book Review- Mind and Body: Answers to Your Questions

It’s been one week since #GivingTuesday! Last week we raised money to give Mind and Body books to 295 self-advocates like you! Thank you to everyone who donated, you have helped self-advocates across Canada learn this very important information.

Illustrations by Andrea Tamme.

VATTA members were all given a copy of Mind and Body, a book written for self-advocates about bodies, dating, and safety. Two members of the Lifestyles Committee decided to write a review of the book. Here’s what they had to say:

Book Review 1:
“I started reading the book when I first got it and I think it is fantastically written, in good, plain language. Years ago, there wouldn’t have been a book like this. This has value and I would like to share it with all self-advocates. Even if you are a person who doesn’t want to have sex yet, this book has good information, good illustrations (not too graphic, but they do help explain everything) and I think it is worthwhile. If you don’t want sex, it is no big deal; those are really big decisions in life. This book gives good information; everyone should read it…teachers, too!
I like that this book is written in such a way that you can take on one topic or chapter at a time. The early chapters deal with values, trust, sexuality, what’s appropriate, changes to male and female bodies, etc. You could start with just a few chapters and wait if you wanted to. Then it starts to move into important issues as young people’s bodies change; things like relationships, intimacy, sex, etc. And then the book finishes with other very important information about babies, sexually transmitted diseases, being safe, etc. I think the chapters cover the questions a young person may have over a number of months or years. I like that it is in plain-language…no euphemisms, no giggling or awkwardness. That’s really important. But it also addresses some of the slang terms that may come up, just so there’s no confusion. I think it is very well done and could be used by all young people and their families. Well done!”

Illustrations by Andrea Tamme.

Illustrations by Andrea Tamme.

Book Review 2:
“In the dating section of the book it says when you find the right person to date, you should have an equal connection with one another and find things that you have in common. Some things you could have in common are activities, movies, sports, anything really!
The book also talks about finding someone in your life to feel comfortable talking about this stuff with. Examples are your mom or dad, a sibling, a neighbour, someone that you trust and look up to. Once you know who these people are and when you feel ready, you can have an open discussion about your feelings.
When it comes to having a relationship, the main thing is communication. Communication goes both ways, which means you both take turns to talk to each other. Another part of a relationship is respect for that person and compromise. Both people in the relationship need to have their needs met, not just one.
This book also talks about puberty, your body changing from a girl to a woman, or a boy to a man. It also talks about sexuality.
There are many other chapters in this book besides the ones I have already mentioned the other chapters include information on intimacy, having a baby and being around other people.
Other chapters may include information on sex, and sexually transmitted infections. There is also very important information about abuse and safety. This is very important because many people with a disability will be abused in their life. If we can teach ourselves about safety and be educated about all of these topics.”

If you are a self-advocate and would like to read the book, you can order a copy by clicking here

If you missed Giving Tuesday, it’s not too late to put Mind and Body books into the hands of self-advocates! Click here to donate now.

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Paul was so excited we reached our goal! Let’s help more self-advocates get the book!




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