By Jim Timlick
By most accounts, Nathan leads a pretty busy life.
He works two different jobs, participates in weekly Zumba classes at his local YMCA, sings karaoke at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre, ice skates during the winter, is a member of a Saturday morning bowling league, participates in a social club and hangs out with his older brother Joshua most Monday nights.
“I like to be busy. I want lots of stuff to do. I don’t like sitting around,” he says.
While keeping up such a fast pace is a credit to Nathan’s personal drive, his family says it might not have been possible without the support of Epic Opportunities.
Nathan has been supported by Epic Opportunities since graduating from high school 15 years ago, first through its Epic Everyday program and more recently through the agency’s Epic at Home service which helped him move into his own home seven years ago.
“When we were looking for an agency what I really liked about Epic was that they didn’t say this is the program and Nathan needs to fit into it. At Epic it was ‘What does he want to do every day?’,” says his mom Louise.
“It’s always been about what he wants to do. It’s Nathan’s program, not Epic’s. As a mother I appreciate that. He’s not just a number in a group.”
Louise shared her appreciation for the work Epic Opportunities and its staff has done supporting Nathan at the agency’s recent annual general meeting, held June 25 at the Holiday Inn Airport. She was one of the featured speakers at the event and shared details of the many successes Nathan has achieved since he became involved with Epic Opportunities.
While admitting she was a little nervous about speaking in front of so many people, Louise says she felt compelled to do so.
“I felt that I should express our appreciation for what Epic has done for Nathan,” she says.
“In addition to providing the physical care, socialization and activities, and encouraging his personal growth, I know he is in a community where he feels loved, safe and secure. He’s grown in ways I don’t think he would have if he had stayed at home with me.”
One of the areas in which Nathan has grown the most over the past 15 years, his mom says, is his personal confidence. Once quiet and withdrawn, he now feels more comfortable sharing what’s on his mind with the people around him and is far more likely to initiate a discussion.
“Being involved with the Epic day program and the residential program we’ve seen him start to come out of his shell and speaking more and join in the conversation,” Louise says.
“I am more confident,” he says. “I’m not scared (to speak up).”
That’s especially true when it comes to his work. For the past 10 years Nathan has worked as an usher with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People at The Forks. More recently, he began working at Nor’West Co-op Community Health’s Community Food Centre where he serves meals to customers and helps with cleaning up.
“I like helping other people,” Nathan says about work.
As for the future, Louise says she is confident Epic Opportunities will be there for Nathan as his needs and interests continue to evolve.