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Scenes of Amazement with Recreation Therapy

December 10, 2015

There is no better demonstration of Amazement at Canuck Place than a recreation therapy outing. They are, very often, Ordinary Miracles.

These outings happen almost daily. They can be as simple as a night at the movies, or as elaborate as searching for Santa with Air Canada.

“I think what I’ve learned from the children that I work with at Canuck Place is that kids are way more resilient than we give them credit for,” said recreation therapist, Laura Fielding. “Kids have so much to show us if only we give them the opportunity to do so.”

One of the most magical and memorable events of the year is the annual Flight with Santa. Canuck Place is one of several groups invited to the day organized by Joanne Griffiths, with help from Air Canada Jazz.

Children and families arrive at the Signature Flight Support Terminal knowing they are going on a flight with Santa, but his exact arrival is shrouded in a little bit of mystery.

“We all come together, old friends and new, sipping on hot chocolate and enjoying tidbits while watching out the large window onto the tarmac,” explains recreation therapist, Gillian Lagambina. “Where is Santa?  How is he coming?  Faces young and old pressed up against the glass, wheelchair wheels pushing against the window anticipating the arrival.”

Vancouver Canucks mascot, FIN arrives to help the kids search for Santa, looking under chairs, behind doors, and inside of planters.

Finally, the Air Jazz Dash-er 8 appears, taxing down the runway, when a familiar figure pops out through a hatch in the cockpit…

The excitement level rises and everyone is clapping, little and big voices yelling “SANTA…it’s SANTA!”

FIN leads the welcoming committee, dancing with Santa on the tarmack. Boarding passes are quickly handed out, destination: The North Pole.

Families board the plane, and are welcomed by Santa singing Christmas carols and handing out more goodies. Everything is filled with festive cheer, Santa even has a holiday remix of safety instructions.

It’s a surprisingly short round-trip to the North Pole, but the memories made will last a lifetime.

“This is the 5th annual flight and as I look back over the last 4 years, I have fond memories of children and their families singing, laughing, truly enjoying life,” said Gillian. “As the years pass, sadly some of these children and parents are no longer with us but we never forget and will always have those cherished, happy times in our hearts and mind.”

Canuck Place is recognizing recreation therapy as part of our annual 12 Gratitudes celebration.

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