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26 November 2019

Always Reaching Out: Mike Windsor

By Berton Woodward

Mike Windsor loves sledge hockey, whizzing down the ice on a small sled, propelling himself with two short hockey sticks that have metal picks on the end. “It’s a fun sport to play,” he says. “And it actually gives me an opportunity for leadership to help other teammates who’ve just started.”

Mike is like that – always reaching out. He first learned about sledge hockey when a recreation therapist at Pathways Health Centre for Children in Sarnia suggested he try it. Mike was going to regular sessions there because his ulna and radius – the two bones in the forearm – were fused together in both his arms. That meant his palms were always down, and made turning his arms in certain ways – including flipping a puck into goal – very difficult. “It’s one of those invisible disabilities,” says his mother Brenda. “Try getting a store clerk to give you change on the back of your hand.” He also had speech delays, fine motor deficiencies and learning difficulties, which led Brenda and her husband Gord to Pathways.

Photo of Mike outside in graduation wear holding a photo of himselfMike credits the centre for inspiring him to achieve his goals, in school, work and sport. “I follow the saying, ‘Dream big and your dreams will come true,’” he says. At Pathways, he received speech therapy, occupational therapy and therapeutic recreation services, including swimming. But it was sledge hockey that really scored a goal for him. He began playing for the Sarnia’s Ice Hawks, and in 2018 gained a spot as centre on the Kitchener-Waterloo Sidewinders, a full-contact team that competes around Ontario and beyond.
And Mike being Mike, the support he got at Pathways did not go one way. At 22, having now finished high school and a two-year college program, he volunteers at Pathways whenever he can, helping with bingo or ARTZscape. “I want to give back to my community,” he says. “They helped me so I am giving back to them.”

Even his choice of career was related to his urge to be involved with others. He originally hoped to study to join the police force as a way to give back to the community. His disabilities were seen as a barrier, however, so he went with Protection, Security and Investigation at Sarnia’s Lambton College. He gained his diploma under the Community Integration through Cooperative Education program, which offered him scribe and note-taking support, and he now works part-time as a guard for a local security company, with hopes of going full-time.

He also volunteered in a variety of activities at Lambton, acting as the college mascot, becoming a student ambassador and participating in the Safe Walk program. “Michael’s outgoing personality, his ability to be a team player and his genuine concern for others will allow him continued success,” said the coordinator of his Lambton program, Lisa Meyers, in a presentation about him to the college Board of Governors.

To Mike, the spark for his achievements came from Pathways. “They helped me become the guy I am today.”