Looking back through old photos of Wanda Sanchuk as a young girl reminds her mother Vicki of the way she used to smile and laugh so often. Refusing early advice to place Wanda into an institution, Vicki decided to raise Wanda at home, where she was able to spend a lot of time with her two younger brothers. “It was hard. But it’s your own child, so you learn to deal with it.”
Vicki reflects on the past and all the medical procedures Wanda has been through. Wanda underwent six operations before she was ten months old, spending two months in hospital before she was able to go home. With major surgeries now behind her, Wanda has reached a point of contentedness.
Wanda spent her early school years in Calgary, where she attended a school for the handicapped. Students from the regular classes used to join Wanda and her classmates at recess time, a situation that Vicki says worked well. Wanda enjoyed the interaction with all the kids. In her early years in Grande Prairie, Wanda stayed very active with regular swimming and horseback riding with the Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society (PARDS).
In the group home, Wanda participates in the Developmental Activity Program, coordinated by Lenora Watson and Marilyn Rycroft. They describe Wanda as basically quiet, although she loves the noise in the house when her roommates get together for a board game.
Wanda can often be found flipping through the pages of a catalogue or magazine, an interest she has had for many years. She has subscriptions to pricey fashion magazines, the titles with beautiful colour photos and high grade paper. Wanda loves the photos, the turning of the pages, and the folding and ruffling of the pages until the book “grows” in size. For her, there is a process involved and she experiences the magazines in a unique way.