This summer is bittersweet for the brothers Osmond (top right) and Edmond Shen (left).
That’s because it’s the last thing they spend together in the Spiral Garden.
The 21-year-old Osmond has been visiting the artist-run camp in the gorge behind Holland Bloorview since he was five and completes the program. The nine-year-old Edmond has been coming for four years.
The camp brings together children with and without disabilities under a tree canopy to maintain an accessible garden, shape clay, work with wood, make dolls and tell stories.
Every brother has a different passion. For Edmond, it’s gardening. “You come to aquatic plants and help,” he says.
For Osmond, it’s woodworking. Osmond imagines finished products – such as a stand for his Nintendo DS, a wheelchair cup holder or a robot – and instructs Edmond how to do it. “A lot of teenagers come and go for an hour, but Osmond is determined to stay until his project is complete,” said Brendan Byrne, one of the advisors.
The day we met, Osmond Edmond had a thick branch cut into small circular pieces to form the four wheels he wanted on his robot. “He’s the boss,” says Edmond.
“What I like about this camp is that it teaches” normal “children about disabilities,” says Osmond. He and Edmond also appreciate the open schedule. “You can go anywhere and do whatever you want,” says Edmond. “In my other camp, we had a schedule and we had to do that, then that, then that.”
Edmond says one of his favorite parts of the camp goes to the hospital cafeteria for lunch. “Osmond takes me to lunch and I get a hot lunch.”
Osmond encourages other families to send their disabled child with his brothers and sisters. “It’s a great opportunity for siblings,” he says.
The camp, which welcomes over 200 children and teenagers every summer, is financed by donors our foundation.
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