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A Volunteer's Story

On a snowy Sunday in February 2018, a group of the sweetest children came together to partake in some games, card-making and crafts, while their parents convened for a support group. They were an absolute joy to spend time with and made you feel like a kid again. This volunteer event was very well put together and gave us all a chance to appreciate the importance of support from the Ontario Prader-Willi Syndrome Association, along with the care and dedication the volunteers have for their community and the people they interact with. Most importantly, the children and families that benefit from the programs provided through this charitable organization have a great support system. This event made me proud to be Canadian, to experience such a sense of unity and togetherness from the children, the parents, the volunteers and the staff spending time together to bring awareness to a little known condition called Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Prader-Willi Syndrome - I found out that day- is a very specific condition; it’s a genetic disorder that begins to show symptoms in the newborn stage that includes issues with development, feeding and weak muscles. During childhood, the individual with PWS becomes constantly hungry (a condition known as hyperphagia) which often leads to obesity. Not only did I learn something about this rare condition and meet some of the loveliest children but this experience volunteering with the kids with Prader-Willi Syndrome was a wonderful reminder of the true value that food should have in our lives.

As a young person, we are constantly told to follow food trends and diet fads, we also eat in a rush and struggle to follow through with “mindful eating” techniques but the hours that I spent with my new little friends opened me up to something important: to appreciate every bit of health that we have and to extend our own vitality to others, through a smile, by sharing a moment creating a valentines card or to just eat slower and be grateful for the role food plays in our lives.

Although we can sometimes take for granted the food in front of us, let’s choose to take smaller bites, chew longer and savour every moment of the fuel that we are using to keep our brain and body moving because we never know the struggle of those around us who can’t share in this privilege. I felt honoured to be able to spend a Sunday in such a great way, connecting with kids and being able to engage in a project that promoted togetherness with the Prader-Willi syndrome community.

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