Terry’s story begins almost ten years ago when Terry and Jeff Kew welcomed two beautiful children into the world. Twins Jorja and Jesse were born three months early, and as a result would have complex medical, physical and developmental challenges.
Thus began a lifelong journey that the Kews would face with medical professionals and support workers. When the twins were just seven months old, illness took Jeff from Terry and the children’s lives.
Now a single parent, Terry would have to manage the coordination of Jorja and Jesse’s care alone. The challenges presented by meeting the needs of the twins and keeping everyone organized and on schedule kept Terry from returning to the career that she had prior to having children. Terry knew that she had to go back to school and find a career that would better fit with her new responsibilities.
But how was she going to be able to do this? She knew that she needed help. That help would eventually come in the form of Community Living London (CLL), family and friends.
Terry gains strength from her children. Jorja’s bright smile complements her feisty, energetic and extremely strong-willed personality. Jorja lights up a room, making everyone smile or laugh when she suddenly bursts out with laughter. Cerebral Palsy confines Jorja to a wheelchair. Her cochlear implant enables her to hear all that is going on around her which is very important to this inquisitive little girl. Jorja enjoys attending school and is in a developmental class.
Jesse is an inquisitive, highly energetic, intelligent, caring and affectionate boy. Jesse has a feeding tube to aid with diet and digestion issues. Along with his medical needs, Jesse is diagnosed with autism and ADHD. Despite his struggles, Jesse continues to amaze everyone with his charm, cleverness and remarkable memory. He attends a regular classroom at school with the help of an educational assistant.
When the twins were two years of age, Terry decided to return to school. Her goal, to be able to provide the best life for her children, could only be met by continuing her education. Terry admits it was hard work obtaining a college education in Medical Office Administration, but it was worth every bit of effort.
One of the many challenges Terry faced was preparing for her exams. The demands of caring for the children left little time for the hours of study that were required. It was during this time that Terry learned of Community Living London’s Respite Program. This provided her with the support she needed.
CLL’s Respite Services is short term, scheduled respite for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Community Living London has three unique homes where qualified staff members provide care to participants of all ages and needs. The Respite Program was the only program which could meet the unique needs of both Jorja and Jesse. Thus it became an important part of the Kew’s lives.
Community Living London was able to schedule respite stays around Terry’s exam schedule, so she was able to study and write her exams knowing her children were safe and sound. With the support of CLL’s respite services, Terry was able to remain in school, study before exams and graduate on the President’s Honour Roll.
Terry remains very optimistic, even when the lift on her van stops working, the furnace breaks down and the basement floods (all in the same weekend); Terry remains calm and tackles one issue at a time. Terry’s best advice to other families is to access the services that are available and to take life’s challenges one day at a time.
Now that Terry has completed school she occasionally has a little bit of “free time”. Terry and the twins were able to take part in the 2015 Night of Heroes Fashion show. She was overwhelmed with emotion when she was asked to be a hero. Participating in this event and walking the runway with her children meant so much to Terry and her family.