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When Liz was hit by a truck while walking across the street last winter, it changed everything for her and her three children.
“It was a hit and run,” the Brooklands-area mom recalled. “I was laid up pretty badly for a while.”
Liz broke two ribs, and four tendons in her knee snapped. She spent time in hospital and she wasn’t able to walk for two months.
“It made life very difficult,” said Liz.
As Liz’s painful recovery stretched into the summer months, her two older children, Zackary and Krystal, were able to find ways to keep themselves occupied.
But the situation was more challenging for young Emily, 11.
“She was stuck in the house with nothing to do,” Liz said. “I depend on the kids a lot. It was getting really rough.”
Enter the NorWest Co-Op Community Health Centre on Alexander Avenue.
“It’s a great way to connect and meet new people.”
Liz and her children are longtime guests at the donor-supported centre, and the community at the Norwest on Alexander (as it’s affectionately called) knows the family well.
Centre staff recognized Emily had been working hard to take care of her mother’s additional needs, and that the precocious Grade Six student could use some time to be a kid.
NorWest on Alexander decided to invite Emily to take part in the co-op’s summer camp – and Liz was thrilled.
“She was very happy,” remembered Liz. “She loved it.”
Emily said her camp experience was “sort of like school, except not, because you … have longer lunch breaks.”
The kids spent the week making crafts, doing activities and playing outside. Emily knew some children from the neighbourhood and made some new friends, too.
“The last day we made pizza and watched a movie – Hotel Transylvania,” she said. “and I had gone out and bought a pop and a bag of Doritos and some plain chips.”
The experience at camp was just one of many Emily says she has enjoyed at the centre over the years.
The young girl participated in an acting workshop, and she’s spent afternoons at NorWest in the after-school program. She also remembers with fondness a field trip to Winnipeg’s airplane museum.
“They do a lot of stuff,” she said.
Emily’s relationship with the community at the centre grew naturally out of the one her mom has nurtured there over the years.
“I started with the Mom and Me group actually,” Liz remembered about when she first attended NorWest on Alexander. “With Zackary. He was two when Krystal was born.”
Liz said the centre has always been a wonderful and welcoming place for her and her family.
“You walk in there, you already have the coffee made,” she said. “I was in a crochet group. We would knit, crochet, have coffee – just talk. It’s a great way to connect and meet new people.”
“It’s always there for us,” Liz continued. “Just recently, we needed groceries and they were able to provide a bit of groceries for us.
“It’s like one big family.”
Today, Liz is still recovering from her injuries and is “still trying to get my life back to normal.” She has no feeling in parts of her right leg, and she uses a walker to get around as best she can.
Emily remains a great help to her mom – carefully lifting her walker up and down the stairs of their one-and-a-half storey home so she can get to doctor’s appointments.
Emily says if kids in the neighbourhood were thinking about whether or not to check out the NorWest on Alexander, they should – and they’ll be glad they did.
“I would recommend for them to sign up for some of their programs there,” said the tween. “They do host really good programs.”