Colwood resident Miranda Yates and her dog

Miranda’s journey continues

Her dog, and a horse are a West Shore teen’s favourite friends

Inclusion in the school system and activities that stretch beyond the classroom have dramatically broadened Miranda Yates’ horizons.

Born with Down syndrome, she was diagnosed in Grade 4 with Usher’s syndrome type 2, a degenerative eye disease that also involves stable hearing loss.

It was Shiva, her guardian, close friend and constant canine companion, who initially alerted the family to Miranda’s vision loss, said her mother, Barbara Yates.

The Colwood family found Shiva in Barkerville after doing a lot of research to find the right dog with the right training, and Miranda and the dog bonded immediately the moment they met.

“Shiva opened the door to many social connections for Miranda and provided more independence for her at school,” Yates said.

She and her husband lobbied long and hard to enable their daughter to remain in a regular classroom during her school years.

“There’s a difference between inclusion and integration,” Yates explained. “Integrating someone into the classroom doesn’t necessarily mean they are included. We had to fight for that inclusion.”

Because Miranda’s hearing difficulties weren’t diagnosed until Grade 4, the family also had to fight for educational assistants who knew sign language as well, Yates said.

Shiva accompanied Miranda to school and allowed her a new level of freedom, as well as helping her build solid friendships that will carry into her adult life that may not have otherwise been possible.

Now 19, Miranda has made remarkable strides since graduating from Belmont secondary in 2015. She followed that with a year at Royal Bay secondary, where she made the honour roll twice and was awarded a scholarship from the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

She has been gaining work experience at Winners in Westshore Town Centre and will begin a pre-employment program at Camosun College in January.

Miranda’s passion for sports includes Challengers baseball and kung fu, where she has earned a junior black belt. She also competes in Special Olympics, in both rhythmic gymnastics and snow shoeing. Miranda is especially passionate about her participation in para-equestrian events, including dressage and vaulting, where she regularly places in the top seven competing against riders with no disabilities.

“I love keeping busy and I really like horses,” she said with an infectious smile. “The one I ride now, Queen, is very special. She gives me a kiss every time.” Miranda trains twice a week and plans to compete in the B.C. Summer Games in 2020.

“I hope to bring a medal home,” she added enthusiastically.

She is also looking forward to attending Camosun – the plan is for her to ride the bus alone to school – and continuing to work at Winners. “I love meeting new people, and the people I work with are really nice.”

Her mother believes the connections she makes will carry into her adult life.

“There are already so many people out there who recognize her abilities and skill sets,” Yates said. “We’re always getting stopped for a chat.

“One thing my husband and I always looked at is that you can always learn a skill or academics, but it’s more important to develop the ability to advocate for yourself and have friends. You can be smart as a whip, but be isolated and lonely.”

As Yates is happy to acknowledge, that certainly isn’t the case with Miranda. “There are so many people to thank for where she is today,” she said, her mothers’ pride shining through.

Just Posted

Bear sightings historically rare in Langford: City staff

51 bear complaints or sightings in last year

Mental health walk/run aims to outpace depression

Walk increased to 5k, run to 10k

Island cycling series boosts youth race schedule

New series creates opportunity for more youth competition

Colwood wins award for Sustainable Infrastructure Replacement Plan

Plan wins Award of Excellence in Government Finance

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, multiple people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Most Read