My heart is full.
The Amputee Coalition of Toronto held its First Annual BBQ on Sunday, July 29, 2018, and just close enough to be celebrating our first year anniversary as an amputee support group in Toronto. We had humble beginnings, but as you will see in the following photo, our group…no, our FAMILY has grown.
When I began my journey as a below-knee amputee in 2017, I quickly realized that there was a gap in the support that I had as a patient. I had my medical care team’s support in the hospital and rehab centre, my family and my friends. What I felt missing was support from people like myself; someone who understood what I was going through – not from a textbook, but at a personal level. Lost and not knowing where else to turn to, I knew what I had to do – start the Amputee Coalition of Toronto (ACT).
I remember our very first meetup. There were four people in our group. Me, another below-knee amputee, an upper-limb amputee and his wife. I had just come back from the Amputee Coalition of America National Conference in Louisville (KY) and I was inspired by hundreds of amputees interacting with one another and just having a good time. And that’s what I wanted ACT to be – a place for amputees to interact with one another, share their stories, learn from one another, promote an active lifestyle while having a good time. I wanted to have a similar community of amputee peers here in Toronto. And as you can see from the photo above, our group of four has expanded in less than a year.
One of the unique things that ACT promotes outside of an active lifestyle for the amputee is the involvement of family in our peer support group. We feel strongly that our support system at home also needs peer support from one another. So we make sure that they have a place to connect with one another as well in our group. More importantly, we feel that children of amputees should also have a place where they can be with other children so they too don’t feel that they are the only kid with a parent who is an amputee. It was amazing to see how they all quickly bonded and formed friendships.
As we reach a key milestone as a group, our first year anniversary, we are very pleased to have had the growth and success in reaching out to many amputees as we can. In fact, the Amputee Coalition of Toronto has been able to reach beyond the borders of the local Toronto and Greater Toronto Area and we now have members across Ontario. We were delighted that many of them made the drive to attend our first annual barbecue. We’ve interacted with them mostly online in our Facebook group so it was nice to finally meet them in person. And that is exactly what we plan moving forward as a group – reach out to as many amputees and their families as we can across the province. So if you happen to have stumbled on this blog, please help us connect with amputees in your neighbourhoods. Encourage them to join our group.
My big thanks to our ACT grill masters, event organizers and many hat wearers within ACT – Megan, Shelly, Jason, and Michael. Thank you guys. You pulled it off!
PS. Love the Batman and Superman aprons!
Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who was able to join us on this event. We look forward to seeing many more of you on the next meetup. – Aristotle Domingo, Founder
Amputee Coalition of Toronto welcomes all amputees in Toronto and the surrounding GTA to join our support group for more information on monthly meetups, upcoming events, and a safe space to share your journey. We’re in this together!