Profile: CHRISTOPHER NOWAK
Christopher Nowak is an outgoing, friendly person who, according to his mother Elaine, loves attention from people and knows more people than she does.
Christopher was born in Spirit River, the youngest of three children in the Nowak family. Spirit River doctors had predicted that he would be a tiny baby but he weighed seven pounds when he was born. Christopher was born with Spina Bifida.
At first Elaine was told that her newborn was paralyzed and may not live. She remembers “ a procession of nurses and doctors telling me what was wrong with him.” Elaine was finally able to see her new baby three days after he was born.
Elaine learned as much as she could about Spina
Bifida in the first few months of Christopher’s life. She decided to care for Christopher herself. It was hard to find respite care because everyone was afraid to watch him. Elaine got a huge stroller for Christopher when he was three or four years old. As he grew, he progressed to a scooter and then to a small wheelchair.
Christopher was “an angel” until he was ten years old, when he started to rebel. Elaine made arrangements for him to live away from home. Elaine made the tough decision to send Christopher to live with a foster mom while attending Crystal Park School in Grande Prairie.
Elaine was torn between allowing Christopher to grow and learn and the desire to keep him close. She was also afraid to send him to school for fear he would be bullied. Although he was integrated into the public school system, the reality was that he was never going to catch up with regular kids in the classes. In the long run, Christopher was able to overcome some challenges, but unable to conquer some.
Christopher did well in Junior High School. Elaine remembers the presentation ceremonies where Christopher received an award. She says it was very emotional, and that even the presenter cried during the presentations.
Marilyn Rycroft and Lenora Watson work with Christopher at the 107th Ave group home. They describe him as very outgoing and social, with a strong competitive streak.
They also notice that he clearly knows who is in charge and has great respect for the group home Supervisor. But even though he respects the Supervisor, he considers his Mom the boss over all other people in his life.
Marilyn and Lenora say that Christopher’s sense of humour is evident most of the time. He threatens to tell his Mom about them if staff annoys him. Christopher likes to work as long as they don’t call it work. He relies heavily on his communication book to let them them know what he wants or needs. Christopher is an avid fan of Shania Twain and Nascar racing and loves to show his pictures. Christopher’s energy radiates to those around him.
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