Profile: LEN HACHEY
Len Hachey is a music fan. Surprisingly for someone so young, he is a fan of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. He plays their CD on road trips with his family and when he has a chance to go home for visits he plays the organ for hours.
Len is the oldest of three children. His family didn’t think he would live because he was born prematurely and weighed only three pounds. Len spent his first year in the hospital.
Len was fourteen years old when his next oldest sister was born. In 1976, when he was eight years old, a decision was made to send Len to Grande Prairie to attend the Peace School of Hope. He lived at Barrydale Dorm, which was difficult at the time because he was sick and needed constant care.
Marilyn Rycroft and Lenora Watson work with Len in the Developmental Activities Program (DAP) at the 107th Ave group home. DAP is conducted in that group home for clients who could benefit from the program but are not suited to attending the DAP facility. Marilyn and Lenora say that routine is very important to Len and he behaves as though the “world is falling apart” if his routine is disrupted. Communication for Len is entirely dependent upon body language and facial expressions,
Len participates in a work experience program at Cat Ballou hair salon. He also does weekly office recycling with Marilyn Rycroft. Len is very attached to his family and loves to visit his older sisters. On visits home they take accompany him to his favourite activities such as swimming, quad rides and riding golf carts.
There were no services for the handicapped in Fahler and the surrounding area when Len was born. Len’s father Gerald Hachey went to the health unit to find names of other handicapped children in his area. He gathered a group of parents together to hire a special needs teacher for their children. He paid for the teacher out of his own pocket for the first few months.
Gerald went on to establish the Fahler Friendship Corner Association in 1969. The Friendship Corner came about after Gerald traveled to Edmonton to meet with Winnifred Stewart, a pioneer in education for the handicapped at the time. Mrs. Stewart advised him that the only way to ensure service was to start his own organization.
The Friendship Corner had a classroom and students from the area were billeted so that they could attend the classes. There were fourteen students in the first year in operation.
With only $57 per month in grant money per student, the group had to do a lot of fundraising.
Gerald sees a change attitudes and services since the time Len was born. He says there are many more supports available for the handicapped and their families. He suggests that parents with handicapped children utilize the district health units as a first contact and resource for available services.
Gerald sees integration of the handicapped into the community as “stifling for the students in one sense.” Some are not able to keep up with others, and they can sense that and get discouraged. He says that the needs of handicapped children are diverse and no two are the same. In segregated schools, specific needs can be met. “There is a possibility for ‘normalization’ to emphasize what the handicapped are missing.”
The handicapped today enjoy longer life expectancy, made possible in part to new medications. “Handicapped seniors will present a new set of problems.”
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