The following is an interview with Joshua Penfold.
Q: How did you hear about the Avon Trail?
A: The Avon Trail had been on Joe’s Mom’s radar for a while. It wasn’t until I joined Joe’s support team that joining the hiking group on Tuesdays became a possibility. I had heard about the Avon Trail through a few landowners I know, but had never actually been on the trail.
Q: Would you like to share a little about Joe?
A: Joe is 22 years old and finished high school nearly 2 years ago. His family and support team are working together with Joe to enable his days to be full, meaningful and productive. He’s becoming a helping hand in his community where he does event flyer deliveries, dog walking and errands. Joe has responsibilities at home and in the family business, and volunteers at U Turn Ranch, a summer camp in Tavistock. He enjoys skating and is on the Special Olympic Recreational swim team.
Q: What were your expectations for the Tuesday morning walks?
A: Joseph loves to walk and his days are filled with various kinds of walking but often it is just the two of us. Our hope was to be able to be part of something more than just us, to belong to a group who we could get to know and they could get to know us.
Q: How are you enjoying the hikes?
A: Tuesday morning hikes on the Avon Trail have become the favourite part of my week. Every week the trail is different, and it’s always exciting to see who we’ll be hiking with and what wonders we might stumble across along our hike. The most enjoyable parts of hiking are seeing the beauty and diversity of creation and being able to have wonderful conversations with new friends.
Q: What has been encouraging and/or surprising about participating?
A: I have been encouraged by how well Joe has nestled into the routine of walking with the group. I have been surprised by the kindness and support of those who hike with us.
Q: Do you experience any challenges?
A: Using the stiles is a challenge that we continue to get better at every time we encounter them. Our fellow hikers are always full of encouragement and offer helping hands as I help Joe ascend and descend the stiles. We’re slowly becoming pros. As I said before, Joe loves to walk and to keep moving so the group stopping for a break can be difficult for Joe if it is a bit long. We usually keep pacing to keep Joe on the move. The group enjoys a coffee together afterward and we’re always working on increasing our ability to sit with our hiking group.
Q: What has being part of the Tuesday morning walks meant to you and Joe?
A: In one of my support work training classes they defined “belonging” not as being part of a group, or even participating in an activity, but rather “belonging” is achieved when someone is missed when they are absent. I have heard on more than one occasion that people missed us when we were absent. Tuesday morning hiking has provided Joe and me with a little community to belong to, a group of people who encourage us, engage with us, are interested in who we are and what we do, and a group of people to just enjoy being outside with who share a common interest.
Great walking Joe and Josh! We are very glad the Tuesday morning group has become your community of walkers.