Reynolds Secondary school Grade 12 student Heidi Bradley helps Berwick House resident Eva Dawkins brush up on her computer skills at the seniors’ residence on Shelbourne Street.

YOUTH INSPIRED: Success with swimming, school and seniors

Reynolds student keeps busy with sport, classes, volunteer work

Seeing Heidi Bradley read aloud from the Saanich News, surrounded by a group of people four-times her age, isn’t uncommon at Berwick House on Shelbourne Street.

“She’ll have a whole table of them sitting there hanging on every word,” says Kendra King, recreation manager at Berwick. “She has just been absolutely wonderful, she’s just a go-getter, yet quiet and understated.”

The 17-year-old Reynolds secondary student volunteers twice a week at the seniors’ home, running activities, making tea, leading chair exercises, organizing other programs and helping with larger functions. In seemingly simple acts of interaction, she socializes, listens to tales of experience and reads to the residents.

“It’s nice to have somebody to have us help do the programs … that we just don’t physically have the manpower to do sometimes,” King says. “It takes some of the pressure off of us.”

The Grade 12 student started working at Berwick House because of a sport and health class requirement, but quickly fell in love with the place.

“There’s so much more to them than these just little old ladies sitting in a room,” Bradley says, adding that residents love to talk of first dates and young crushes. “I think I’m going to do a lot more there because I have so much fun.”

The work even shifted her post-secondary aspirations, from a future in environmental sciences to a career helping seniors.

“Kendra looks like she has so much fun going to work every day. I want to do what she does or something along those lines,” Bradley says.

The teen works under King’s direction in recreation, primarily in the care unit, where residents require a little more help.

“It’s so nice getting them out of their rooms and leading little exercise classes, or even just getting them to all drum together or listen to music,” she says. “I like sitting around and listening to music, so why wouldn’t they? I like seeing them having a good time and keeping busy.”

Bradley is busy. The competitive swimmer and full-time student is in the pool nine times a week, with four additional gym sessions interspersed.

“She’ll come here literally drying her braid with a towel and run in to do something with the residents,” King says.

With Island Swimming since she was eight, Bradley competed at the 2012 Olympic trials and the 2011 and 2013 World trials, and she represented B.C. at the 2013 Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Que.

“She’s extremely driven, dedicated, very committed to her sport,” says Dave Ravenhill, athletic director at Reynolds. “To this point she’s done everything she can do to set herself up to train hard and get to the national level.”

She’s been on the swim team her entire tenure at Reynolds and has won four gold medals at high school provincials. Conventional classroom schooling gets dropped on occasion between training camps and swim meets.

“It’s hard to balance things, but I’ve always put school first. I’m not a procrastinator,” she says. “I just have a lot of after-school dates with my teachers trying to understand stuff.”

Her work and dedication – and maintaining a position on the honour roll – paid off with a four-year athletic scholarship to the University of Denver come September, where she plans to earn a degree in International Studies, while minoring in French.

“To get a full ride scholarship at a big U.S. school like Denver is something,” Ravenhill says.  “She puts 100 per cent into everything she does. You expect that of a high-achieving athlete – they don’t know how to put 50 per cent in.”

King sees Bradley’s dedication as an athlete spill over into who she is as a person, meeting commitments without cutting corners. King says Bradley shows initiative, is dedicated, and takes her responsibilities seriously.

“She always shows up when she says she’s going to come,” King says. “Once she’s been shown something once, she just goes and does it. She doesn’t just sit there and wait for us to tell her what to do.”

Learning to listen and interact with seniors, some with dementia, can be a difficult task, King says. But Bradley does it all with a smile and a patient attitude – whether that’s repeatedly showing a resident how to use their email program or answering the same question multiple times.

Bradley says she enjoys the work, and intends to keep getting hours in at Berwick House through the summer before heading to university in the fall.

“She goes out of her way to help the residents without being asked,” King says. “She’s just a really nice girl. The residents love her. I’m going to treasure her while I have her.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

••••

Other stories in this series

YOUTH INSPIRED: Turning awkward moments into positive memories (Grace Boothman, Pacific Christian School)

YOUTH INSPIRED: Making a little hello go a long way (Sage Broomfield, Claremont seconday school)

YOUTH INSPIRED: Building community connections (Tamiko Sianen, Mount Douglas secondary)

YOUTH INSPIRED: Passion and patience (Cindy Kim, St. Michaels University School)

YOUTH INSPIRED: Lighting the way for other kids (Beth Langkamer, Spectrum community school)

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Artists, activists and supporters stand at the ‘More Justice, More Peace’ mural in Victoria’s Bastion Square after the letter ‘S’ was painted over in black. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
ACAB removed from Victoria’s More Justice, More Peace mural

New message points to VicPD, City of Victoria for silencing BIPOC voices

Retiring local politicians Carole James and Andrew Weaver will receive annual payouts estimated at $87,000 and $34,000, respectively, under the pension plan for outgoing MLAs in B.C., according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. (Black Press Media file photos)
Taxpayer watchdog howling over outgoing MLAs’ pension payouts

Carole James, Andrew Weaver among Island MLAs whose pensions are calculated by taxpayers federation

BC Ferries vessel Skeena Queen pulls into the dock at Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. (Black Press File Photo).
BC Ferries faces calls for improved reliability on Swartz Bay-Fulford Harbour route

Recent mechanical breakdown resulted in sailing cancellations

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Court approves money for B.C. foster children alleging harm from Kelowna social worker

The maximum combined total award for basic payments and elevated damages for an individual is $250,000

Most Read