Owen is a super cool guy. He is active, and loves crafting. His mom describes him as: “a positive, loving, energetic soul.” Owen dresses up as an emergency vehicle for Halloween every year because he loves cars, and these costumes incorporate his wheelchair.  He is about to turn 16 years old, which is when many Canadians start driving lessons.  For Owen, who knows what 16 might look like?

Owen’s favourite memory of Emily’s House was a stay during the holidays for medical respite care, with his single mom Sarah. They had great fun playing “Elf on the Shelf,” in addition to the structured recreation programming available to our children and families.

One symptom of Owen’s neurological degenerative condition is early onset dementia.  At age 15, his memories are fragile. That’s why this story is so special.  As his mom recounts: “After being home since last March due to (COVID-19) safety and missing Emily’s House. We spent the months refurbishing a hot tub and creating an accessible backyard oasis for therapy at home. Owen is very active and social, and has had to leave hockey, swimming, baseball, school and friends during the pandemic. When I lowered Owen into the hot tub for the first time, he squealed…. ‘It’s just like the tub at Emily’s House!’ It was his first bath in a long time, as we just have the option of showers at home.  He had the best night’s sleep in a long time. But his first thought was Emily’s House. You make a difference, and you have a profound impact on the patients and families you provide care for.

Sarah says, it warmed her heart. She was amazed that he remembered Emily’s House, after several months, given his dementia-related memory loss. She said, “It shows how happy and comfortable he was” while he enjoyed the Emily’s House tub room and therapeutic water play.

Last year, when many children were learning about Zoom video conferencing technology for home schooling, due to COVID-19, it was a steeper and slower learning curve for Owen. But now, he loves the social interaction he missed at home that is accessible through Zoom. Right now, he’s participating in an Emily’s House tile mosaic project with other Emily’s House kids and having a great time.

Children and youth are creating their own tile art contribution for a community mosaic. The program is designed to be therapeutic – encouraging self-expression and community – and, for some, an opportunity to process grief and bereavement.  It is being facilitated through a series of 30-minute Zoom sessions during phase one, with multiple participants having a chance to mosaic together.

Owen craves social interaction and has such a great need for this. His grandparents live on the same street, so he still sees them, but his social needs are high. Sarah was delighted that Emily’s House reached out to them: “Owen loves art,” she said. “He really needs this. He’s really loving this!”