In the Harry Potter novels, the titular character eventually finds a community in the fantasy school of Hogwarts after growing up in a place where he has no peers.
Kate Young finds comparison to that story in Kitimat. Young, 18, was born missing a portion of her left foot, and it is her yearly trips to the War Amps CHAMP (Child Amputee) seminar where she finds connection with others going through the similar life experiences.
This past May, Young took on the role of a junior counsellor at the seminar in Victoria, providing guidance to amputees and to their parents.
“We’re kind of like a resource for the amputee’s parents and a mentor to the amputees,” she said. With her help amputees and their families can learn ways to participate in things such as sports.
“You just feel like you belong and you make friends and get to learn about things that help you do the same things but in a different way,” she said.
While she knows people in Kitimat who have lost limbs, all of them are older, into their 20s or 30s. Certainly not any teenagers like her.
Young started going to these CHAMP seminars when she was five years old and while she remembers initially not wanting to go, she’s since grown to love it entirely.
“I made so many friends, it was just amazing.”
Her condition is relatively invisible. She said no one will notice when she’s wearing regular pants and has to wear shorts before people notice something might be different about her foot.
Accessibility also isn’t a large issue for her in Kitimat.
“It might get a little tricky at times but I manage to overcome it.:”
Now Young has plans to extend her education by taking a photography course, a way to pursue her love of nature photography.
But that won’t stop her from making the CHAMP seminar a regular visit, as she plans to go for years to come.
“If you’re in a situation where you don’t know how to deal with this…CHAMPs is a great way to find your way of being normal.”
More information on the seminar can be found online at waramps.ca.