On top of providing recreation, community, and a healthy lifestyle, spending time in nature fuels the body, guides the heart, and mends the soul. However, due to a variety of barriers, not everyone has the same access to these spaces. Power To Be creates pathways that otherwise may not exist, allowing our participants to reach their goals and discover new possibilities in nature.

D’Arcy Mahoney talks about her family’s path with Power To Be and how our programs have created new opportunities for her son Nathan, building a foundation of confidence as he continues to flourish and embrace the magic of nature.

As a parent of a Power To Be participant, I am very grateful to be part of a community that looks for possibilities and opportunities where others might see barriers and obstacles.

When my son Nathan was four, he received a diagnosis of Aspergers, on the autism spectrum. The team told us that they were very sorry and that our future would be very hard with his challenges. They painted a bleak picture. Though we could have been devastated, we looked for people to work with who would acknowledge Nathan’s challenges, and at the same time see that he could learn the skills he needed to thrive.

As soon as he was diagnosed, we were fortunate to find such people, and when he was in grade four, we started participating in Power To Be activities. It has been five years, and what a blessing it has been!

From the very first time we came to an open house, the staff and volunteers were warm and welcoming. Since then, Nathan has participated in climbing, hikes, canoeing and kayaking, paddle-boarding, camping trips, survival skills training, riding in the Christmas Truck Parade, and more.

He always feels seen and heard and is encouraged to push his limits by trying new activities or setting goals beyond what he thinks he can accomplish. Whether or not he achieves the goal, the staff and volunteers support and cheer on every effort, and that has given Nathan the willingness to take on new challenges, both large and small.

Last Spring, we did a household program where the staff taught us a few survival skills. Nathan was sure he would not be able to throw a rope over a high branch to hang a bear tump, and was hesitant to try. With some gentle prodding from Paul, one of Power To Be‘s program facilitators, Nathan went for it, and got it on the first try. Nothing beat the joy in his heart and the smile on his face that he got by meeting that small challenge. With every success, Nathan believes in himself just a little bit more, and that gives him the willingness to step out and try new challenges.

Nathan conquered a much bigger challenge this past summer, going on a 7-day kayak trip around Salt Spring Island with a summer camp. With the social skills and practical experience he had gained from his years with Power To Be, Nathan was able to participate in all of it, and made friends there while doing it. They kayaked 20 km to their campsite, camped solo in their tents, prepared meals together, and went crabbing and cliff-jumping. He came home full of stories of joking around the campfire in the evenings, excited that he had tried new things, and with a taste for fresh crab. When I picked him up, his counsellors made a point of coming up and sharing how much fun they had had with Nathan and would welcome him back to a kayak trip any time in future.

From what could have been a very discouraging diagnosis ten years ago, to the thrilling experience of hearing about Nathan’s successes, we are very grateful to Power To Be, who believes in possibilities and finds creative ways to achieve what might have seemed impossible before.