An Interview with Paul Sawka about Friendships

CDSS: What’s your favourite activity to do with friends?

Paul: My favourite activity to do with friends is to go out to a movie or dinner. I like to go to a bar and watch sports on TV. I also enjoy going to the beach or to the Zoo.

CDSS: What’s one of your favourite memories with a friend?

Paul: One of my favourite memories is golfing with my friends when we are all camping together in the summer. We also go swimming in the pool together and at the beach.

CDSS: If you and a friend could go anywhere/do anything for a day, where would you go and why?

Paul: I would go to Disneyland for the day. I would love to see Hollywood and the backstage area. I would go with my girlfriend. I was there many years ago and would love to see it again. It was so much fun!

CDSS: How has Covid-19 impacted your friendships?

Paul: Because of Covid I couldn’t see my friends for a long time. I missed them so much! It was hard to keep in touch. Now that restrictions have lifted slightly, I am able to see them more often. We are all vaccinated, so we can swim again with my swim club. Special Olympic curling has also started up once again. It is such a relief to meet up with all my friends again.

CDSS: How do you stay in touch with friends during Covid-19?

Paul: There was a long time when I couldn’t see my friends at all. We did see each other on Zoom calls, and I also use WhatsApp to keep in touch. I also talk on the phone with my friends. I probably use my phone more now than I did before. I use it a lot to text my friends, and sometimes even facetime.

CDSS: What do you like most about your friends?

Paul: My friends enjoy doing the same things I do. We talk a lot, and we understand each other. We enjoy each other’s company. We go to each other for support.

CDSS: Do you find it easy to make new friends?

Paul: I enjoy meeting new people and I like to make new friends. I don’t find that difficult at all.

CDSS: How did you feel when you met your friends for the first time?

Paul: To have friends you have to get to know them and find out what they do for fun and what their interests are, so that you will have something to talk about. You have to find out if you have some common interests so that you can do some fun things together. Having friends is very important to me and makes me feel happy.

CDSS: Is it easy or hard to talk about your feelings with your friends?

Paul: It is hard to share my feelings with most of my friends, although I do talk about my feelings with my girlfriend. I also have one special support worker who I often share my feelings with.

CDSS: How do you feel after being with a friend for a day?

Paul: After being with a friend for a day I feel very happy. It is great to be able to share time together with a friend.

CDSS: How many times per week would you like to see your friends?

Paul: I see some of my friends three times a week at our swim club. Other friends I only see once a week or every couple of weeks.

CDSS: What do you and your friends have in common?

Paul: My friends and I enjoy seeing movies together, golfing, camping, swimming, dancing, and hanging out together. We also love music and enjoy singing together. We like watching sports together, like football and hockey games.

CDSS: How are you different?

Paul: I curl and play baseball with Special Olympics, but my friends don’t do that. I am also learning to play the ukulele. I am also an Awareness Leader at CDSS and really enjoy the work that I do.

CDSS: What are some things that you do that make you a good friend?

Paul: I love to talk to people, and I try hard to get along with everyone. I care about people and don’t like to see them upset. I enjoy having fun and doing things together with my friends. I love to party!

CDSS: How did you meet some of your friends?

Paul: I first met a lot of my friends when we were attending PREP in Calgary together many years ago. We have grown up together and no longer attend PREP but have remained friends. Now many of us swim together in the Dolphin Swim Club in Calgary and go camping together in the summer.

CDSS: Do you think you are a good friend?

Paul: Yes, I do think that I am a good friend. I have been with my friends a long time and I feel that we will stay friends forever. The pandemic has made it more difficult to keep in touch with all my friends, but things are improving, and it is nice to see people again.

CDSS: What examples can you give us about times that you were a good friend?

Paul: Some of my friends had birthdays during the pandemic. I got some balloons and gift cards and we drove by their homes to wave and drop gifts for them. Also, when my friends are sad or upset, I care about them and try to find ways to solve their problems and make them feel better. I like to think that I am a good friend.