Each year, the Carol Shantz Bursary Award recognizes a current outstanding client or alumnus of KidsAbility who, through effort and perseverance, seeks to realize their full potential through post-secondary education. Meet the future leaders of our community and beyond!
Graydon Large – 2022 Recipient of the Carol Shantz Bursary
Passion, positivity, and potential are the trifectas by which KidsAbility alumnus Graydon Large accepts every athletic challenge. It’s these personal traits that help him succeed in all aspect of his life.
Graydon lives with a rare genetic disability called Spinocerebellar Ataxia, first diagnosed at 18 months. It affects the cerebellum, a part of the brain vital to the coordination of physical movement, and sometimes the spinal cord. This inherited condition causes specific problems with hand-eye coordination, legs and mobility, and speech. Undeterred, Graydon and his family focus on doing what's needed to keep the condition’s progression at bay.
From first words to complete sentences, from a wheelchair to a walker to walking independently, he applies the same resiliency today that he first learned in speech, occupational and physiotherapy coaching sessions with his KidsAbility therapy teams.
Today, the 21-year-old Bluevale C.I. graduate is a local competitive triathlete and the first competitive Paralympic swimmer of his former high school, credited by his coach for genuinely paving the way for other students in Paralympic athletics. His natural leadership makes him an exceptional role model, and his community work placements are where his passion for working with kids shines.
A former ambassador for KidsAbility Foundation, Graydon reflects on his journey with KidsAbility with fondness, “I’ve volunteered in several programs and camps, specifically assisting children at KidsAbility in the Arts Express camp as well as the KidsAbility JK classroom. It was a full circle moment for me as I was a student in the same classroom at four years old. And now, I’m supported with the bursary as I plan my current education and career path.”
Graydon is determined to embrace his future and all the possibilities ahead as the 2022 recipient of the Carol Shantz Bursary Award, an award established to honour former KidsAbility School principal Carol Shantz. He is experiencing first-year college life while he studies Recreation and Sport at Conestoga College, learning about educational support programs for kids with disabilities. At the same time, he hopes to help deliver physical activity programs at community service agencies.
If you a current or former client of KidsAbility with plans to further your post-secondary studies at college or university, apply today! Visit the Carol Shantz Bursary page to access detailed information, including a fillable application form.
Former Carol Shantz Bursary Recipients
Mathew Chicago – 2021 Recipient of the Carol Shantz Bursary
Mathew knows what it’s like to overcome barriers and persevere. As a young man with autism, he credits the support of his wonderful family and the staff of St. John Bosco Catholic High School, in addition to his school years with KidsAbility as the foundation for learning strategies to communicate his thoughts and feelings, grow his independence and secure his future in the metal fabrication industry.
Throughout high school, Mathew found that volunteering was one way to challenge himself to be a leader. He would help find solutions and offer a sense of community and friendship when others were in need. He assisted young cadets and scouts through orientation, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and contributed to his school’s social justice league program, all while working part-time to support his future post-secondary goals.
Applying his skills in math and detailed, hands-on work, Mathew is working to become a certified welder and pipe-fitter through one-on-one training at LJP Skills Training Welding School in Guelph.