Ten years ago, in March 2010, I was tromping up a trail in the forest near Whistler, B.C. preparing to take a spot in the bleachers at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games.
Saskatoon author Mary Harelkin Bishop was beside me, both of us (and many members of Mary's family) proudly waving Canadian flags and wearing bright red “Canada” toques and shirts announcing our support for a remarkable woman, cross-country sit-skier Colette Bourgonje, who was competing in her 9th Paralympic Games.
|Publisher Deana Driver and author Mary Harelkin Bishop at Whistler, 2010 Paralympic Games|
|Author Mary Harelkin Bishop, second from left, and members of her family at 2010 Paralympic Games|
We were in Whistler not only to cheer for Colette but to celebrate the release of a new book about her life – Moving Forward: The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje - which Mary Harelkin Bishop wrote and I published in partnership with Mary.
While we were at the Games, Mary and I sat beside Colette to launch Moving Forward at the Saskatchewan Pavilion of the Paralympics Games. My time at the Paralympic Games was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for this and many other reasons.
When I think back to the events I witnessed and the emotions I felt at the Games, I can draw parallels to our current COVID-19 situation.
The spirit of caring for all humanity has never been more evident to me.
It’s easy for me to understand the need to stay at home right now, insist on two metres of physical distancing any time I absolutely have to leave my home, and keep washing my hands and disinfecting any surfaces that could have become infected during this crisis.
It’s all about caring for myself and extending that self-love out to the world.
Lesson #1 – Look After The Most Vulnerable.
To get to the Paralympic Games cross-country skiing venue in Whistler, we were driven up the mountain in a transit bus and dropped off in a parking lot partway up the mountain. We had to walk the remainder of the way.
It was a long but beautiful walk through the forested mountains, over a small bridge, past a bubbly stream amid gorgeous scenery.
Anyone who had mobility issues was driven all the way up the mountain as close to the entrance as possible.
With the coronavirus, steps have been taken in most jurisdictions to protect and care for individuals in hospitals, long-term care homes, and other facilities. Many grocery stores and pharmacies are inviting seniors to shop during special times to avoid contact with the virus. There are many others who need our care and support, however, including those who are new immigrants, on a low income, homeless, abused, alone, or battling some illness but not hospitalized.
We need to do what we can to help everyone in our communities while we are self-isolating ourselves in our homes. Reach out. Support the organizations that are helping the most vulnerable people in our midst. Self-isolate and keep physical distancing if you absolutely must leave your home. Contact individuals you know with a phone call or through social media. Make arrangements to help individuals or organizations financially if you can. Give others information about resources that may be available to help them. Check in with others regularly so you both know that you are not alone.
We can do this together.