Back in 2017, we had the pleasure of spending a full day with Archie and his team at the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC). He met us with warm handshakes and a sincere presence.
As a welcoming gift, the children of ILLC presented us with self-made lays of re-purposed magazine paper. We wore these artifacts of creativity and compassion all day. I kept mine as a reminder of the beautiful individuals I met at the ILLC.
The ILLC is both a school and a community of people caring for unique, special children.
The building in which ILLC operates grew from a small house to a large structure, a testament to the human kindness at work within it. Over time the ILLC approach gained recognition for carving a bespoke syllabus from a larger array of possible classes/modules. The family of students and teachers around Archie grew as well.
We listened in rapt attention to their stories – not just Archie’s, but the stories of lives touched within ILLC. The joy of meeting them was soul-nourishing.
They fed us a beautiful lunch, cooked in-house by students, masterfully capped with unforgettable turon. I still think about that meal, and the beautiful souls who prepared it.
As we ventured further into Archie’s story, we visited Project Teach, a community-based rehabilitation program.
Here, we encountered another unforgettable person- a boy named Gio.
Cerebral Palsy kept Gio from moving most of his limbs, and restricted his ability to move his head. Gio receives physical and occupational therapy in-home through Project Teach. The term “community-based rehabilitation” doesn’t fully capture the process I witnessed. It was more a community affirmation of Gio as a human being.
As the physical therapist moved his limbs and sang to him, so did his mother, and so did we. I may never witness Gio physically walk, but in that moment I saw his heart soar. And I saw his mother’s heart soar, too. I saw motherly pride and love and courage. I was so honored to witness this sacred moment of live-giving touch and song, warmth and care. To the children of Project TEACH, you bless us with your uniqueness, you are the treasures of your community.