On behalf of Red Scarf Equestrian Inc., I am writing to voice my support for the efforts of Jeffrey Beausoleil in his Tour de Jeffrey/Free to Move Journey. Indeed, on many levels I am very impressed with this young man.
It is quite evident to me that Jeffrey is courageously taking responsibility for the things which challenge him, having been born without one forearm and one leg. Nevertheless, Jeffrey actively strives to overcome the barriers that arise in order to achieve his goals and personal best. He is very much to be applauded for working to overcome his challenges, instead of passively accepting them and allowing them to define who he is and what he does. He does not seem to be the type of individual that would simply accept his limitations and be content to stay within them. Leading a quiet life of disappointment.
Jeffrey shows a great deal of courage in his undertaking activities which draw attention to people living with physical disabilities. In these efforts Jeffrey reminds those with physical disabilities, and, really all of us, that the world, the sky, softly falling rain, all of these things belong to individuals with disabilities too. The Canadian geese flying overhead, the way the clouds part just enough to allow a shaft of sunlight to illuminate some distant hill, these too belong to everyone. Jeffrey reminds us that there is beauty in the world which individuals with disabilities can enjoy. That life is good and that life can be anything an individual wishes it to be, should they have the courage to claim it. The world and life itself belongs to the disabled, just as much as they belong to anyone.
But what is also moving, is that he is not only concerned with raising awareness about the challenges faced by those with physical disabilities, but that he is also concerned with all young people. Jeffrey, it seems to me, has a very large heart. Jeffrey realizes that life brings its challenges. With his Tour he is seeking to remind all young Canadians, indeed, all of us, that there is a need to face up to those challenges. That we all must recognize what our own challenges are, that we need to embrace them, make them our own, and then decide what we need to do to move beyond them. We must own them, take responsibility for them. It is only by doing so that we achieve the freedom of movement that Jeffrey aspires to.
Raising Awareness for the Challenges of Today's Youth in Canada
I am also very much encouraged to see a young person take a stand on raising awareness not only for physical disabilities, but also for mental health issues which challenge so many of our young people in Canada.
The concerns, of course, are many. To mention just a very few, we have issues surrounding the fact, for example, that one of the greatest risks to our young peoples’ lives in the 10 year old to 24 year old group is suicide. They are at the same time at risk for depression and mood and anxiety disorders. Read Statistics Canada's report.
Another pressing concern is the problem with drugs, opioids for example. I just heard on the radio the other day of a young man whose life is in shambles because of his addiction. Read Health Canada's report on apparent opioid-related deaths.
We also need to make mention here of the devastating loss of young people to gun violence. The violence is, in itself, a marker of the disarray in so many young lives.
Resources, Support & Looking Within
This is all heart breaking. There are young people who need significantly more help than they are receiving. There are young people who are hurting and need help to develop the skills necessary to manage their pain, and move beyond the pain to a life free of it all together. We need new and better ways to get these young people the emotion and psychological support that they so critically need, and to get it at the right moment. We also need to find ways to help them with programs, jobs, counselling, among other things, so that they don’t find themselves in these places to begin with.
We have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. I think what Jeffrey is doing is ringing one alarm bell in the village square. The question is what will be the response of the village.
But Jeffrey is not simply raising alarm bells asking for help. His message is more directed to young people themselves. He is asking them to look within and find the courage and strength to make the efforts, to make the choices, that will lead them to a better place, where they can, in turn, advocate for still others, just as he is doing.
Stay tuned for more to come!