Certain moments are etched in an educator’s mind. This is one of mine.
I have witnessed Kaiya’s constant willingness to try new things, and to find ways to accommodate an activity so that she can participate. Unfortunately, there are opportunities that are simply unavailable to her, such as fully participating on a basketball or volleyball team.
When Kaiya entered grade four, I was excited at the possibility of her becoming a member of the Wabamun Wild archery team. As always, Kaiya was enthusiastic about trying something new, and her determination would find a way. Our Provincial Coordinator, Dave Paplawski, was a great help, and guided me on registering Kaiya for tournaments and ways to accommodate her. Dave originally suggested we take an end lane to give us extra space.
It took Kaiya and I a little time, but we eventually devised a way for her to shoot. In March 2020, we participated in the Alberta Provincial tournament, before everything was shut down. Most archers shot 40 arrows that day, but Kaiya shot over 50 arrows. Kaiya is not able to generate the same force as a student who can pull full weight, and as a result the arrows tend to sometimes hit the target and fall off, resulting in a reshoot. By the final round of shooting she was growing a little tired, but there was no way she was leaving that line until all five arrows stuck.
As we walked back to join the other archers before pulling arrows I remembered my wife’s advice: “Enjoy the moment”. I looked up at the audience and was moved by all of the authentic applause she was receiving. It wasn’t about score, or a competition, it was about Kaiya’s resilience and determination.