By: Karissa Gall
After a mountain biking incident in 2008 left him a partial quadriplegic, Vancouver Community Network (VCN) Youth Initiative intern Logan Van Dyk says he “had no idea what (he) wanted to do.”
“I find with a lot of people with disabilities it’s a rollercoaster ride,” says Van Dyk. “There are good days, there are bad days, there are times where you know what you want to do, and there are times where you don’t.”
Struggling with uncertainty, Van Dyk took an interest in the Neil Squire Society, a national not-for-profit organization that empowers Canadians with physical disabilities through the use of computer-based assistive technologies, research and development, and employment programs. He enrolled in their Employ-Ability program in March of 2012, and received career cruising, resume and cover letting writing support. Through the program he said he “learned about (himself) and figured out which job best suites (him).”
“I figured out that broadcast and media really fits my personality type,” he said, explaining that “sports have pretty much surrounded (his) whole life and (he) still want(s) to be a part of it.”
“I’ve been involved with sports since I was five years old when my dad signed me up for soccer,” said Van Dyk. “In the first game I ever watched, there was a blue team and a red team and I said whatever team scores first I would cheer for. The red team scored first and it turned out to be Manchester United. I’ve been a diehard fan ever since.
“My brother and I used to play roller hockey outside in the front yard every day,” he continued. “Rain, snow, or sun it didn’t matter.
“Now that I can’t really play sports I figured why not talk about it. I’ve watched Don Taylor ever since I was a seven-year-old kid, watching all the replays, and I just figured, ‘I could do that’. I’m planning to apply to BCIT for broadcast and media in the fall.”
And when an opportunity to pursue his newfound passion arose with the society where it all started in the meantime, Van Dyk said he accepted immediately.
“I was going to do some volunteer work for Neil Squire’s Director of Development Chad Leaman, and he set me up with Robyn, the Youth Initiatives Coordinator at VCN, because an internship opportunity had become available. I did the interview with her and they placed me here to work in the Computer Comfort lab.”
In the lab, Van Dyk has been helping users of the site learn how to use computers, from the basics of the Microsoft suite and email to the uses of more advanced software applications.
“Whatever the client wants to learn, we’ll do our best to try to help them learn it,” he said.
He has also been learning new skills himself, taking on special projects outside of the lab.
“I did some video editing just a little while ago,” said Van Dyk. “Three videos that were all around 45 minutes long and I edited them down to three minute videos. I learned a lot. I learned how digital editing works. I had never done anything like that before. They just gave me the videos and said, ‘Have fun with it,’ so I figured it out and I found a good program to use for it.”
He said he used Windows Movie Maker for the editing project and will be using a program called Audacity to record voiceovers for new distance learning videos that the society will be uploading to the online learning website Moodle.
“Neil Squire teaches their students on Moodle, and the videos they had up there were kind of old and tinny,” said Van Dyk. “By re-doing the voiceovers for the videos, the videos are going to be clearer for students who have hearing problems or visual problems. The videos won’t be as tinny in the background and students will be able to hear them more clearly.”
He added that the project will be “really good experience for broadcasting.”
“Especially with the digital editing of the movies and the voiceovers, that’s all a part of broadcasting,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I really like working here. I’m learning new things every day.”