March of Dimes Canada hosts adult aphasia-friendly camp in Haliburton, invites Muskoka residents to attend

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Most of us take our ability to communicate—verbally or in writing—for granted.

The 100,000 Canadians living with aphasia don’t have that luxury.

Aphasia (pronounced “uh FAY zhuh”) is a communication disorder caused by damage to the language areas of the brain, often from a stroke or brain injury, but may also be due to other neurological conditions like dementia or brain tumours.

Someone with aphasia may struggle to say the simplest of words or phrases, or may misunderstand some of what they hear. Although the severity and symptoms vary, a person living with aphasia will have some degree of difficulty with speaking, understanding, reading, or writing, depending on which areas of the brain are affected. It can be a frustrating, isolating condition for those who live for with it, as well as their friends and family

“Imagine if the last sentence you say tonight is the last full sentence for the rest of your life,” says Steve Goff.

Goff has been living with aphasia since he survived a stroke at the age of 48. He started Aphasia Camp in 2008 along with his wife Carol and speech pathologist Jan Roadhouse. Today, there are Aphasia Camps in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

This year, March of Dimes Canada will host its annual Aphasia Camp in Haliburton. They hope to attract participants from underserved, rural, and remote areas, including the Muskoka region, and are angling to bring the camp even further north to the Muskoka area in future years.

The camp strives to provide an environment that emphasizes “Living Well”, despite this profound communication disability.

“It’s a place where people living with aphasia can share experiences and express themselves in a supportive environment,” says Mara Manzato, Manager of Community Engagement and Integration Services at March of Dimes Canada. “We want participants to leave Aphasia Camp feeling more confident in themselves and their communication abilities.”

Ontario Aphasia Camp is scheduled for October 4-6 at Camp Wanakita in Haliburton. Typical camp activities like hiking, canoeing, and kayaking will be on offer, as well as high rope courses, gardening, and therapeutic arts and crafts, all in an adapted, accessible, aphasia-friendly environment.

“Getting away can be hard for people living with aphasia and their caregivers,” Manzato adds. “These camps are a place where they can relax, enjoy themselves, and know that their needs will be accommodated.”

For more information on Ontario Aphasia Camp, or to register, contact Mara Manzato at 416-571-0467 or [email protected]

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