Sixteen-year-old Sebastien Parent of Sudbury has been named one of two Easter Seals Ambassadors for Ontario to help raise awareness and bring more understanding for people with physical disabilities.
Parent, who is currently a Grade 11 student at Bishop Alexander Carter Catholic Secondary School in Sudbury, was born with cerebral palsy (CP), a neurological condition that affects muscle spasticity and makes some motor functions difficult, said a news release from Easter Seals. Parent said the condition mostly affects his legs, so he finds it necessary to use a walker, a wheelchair and canes to get around.
Parent said his favourite subject in school is Information Technology. He was described as a hard-working student, voted valedictorian of his Grade 8 graduating class. As he plans for his future, Parent said he hopes to go to college and to study public relations or journalism.
In a recent YouTube video, Parent described himself as just another young person. You can watch the video below.
"We're all the same. We're all just happy kids. There's no reason to treat us differently or give us any sort of disrespect," said Parent.
In the same video, Parent demonstrated his prowess as a drummer.
Parent has been appointed as one of two Provincial Easter Seals Ambassadors who will represent the organization in its centennial year. The Easter Seals Ambassador program, which began in 1947, helps young people with physical disabilities learn how to become effective advocates for themselves while paving the path for generations behind them.
Parent's co-ambassador for the year is a young woman, 17-year-old Hoor Ulain, of Mississauga, Ontario.
Parent said he hopes to be a role model for other young people with disabilities across the province and show them that anything is possible. This year, he is looking forward to spreading his message that children and youth with physical disabilities are “just like everyone else and that we deserve kindness and love, along with the fact that we want to be treated the same.”
Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible with funding from the federal government.