Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Aaron Waddingham has big plans for after the pandemic
By Sue Robins and Aaron Waddingham
When the pandemic hit in March, my son Aaron Waddingham, like so many kids, quickly learned that spending lots of time at home staring at a screen is not that much fun after all.
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“Too much Zoom is scream time,” he says. “I have some school, but sometimes video games. I miss having people talk to me at school.”
Aaron is 17-years-old and has Down syndrome. Before the pandemic, he spent considerable time by himself. But COVID-19 has made life even more isolated for disabled people like him.
An aspiring actor and Grade 12 student in Burnaby, Aaron is medically compromised and didn’t return to school in September. His days are a mix of neighbourhood walks, Zoom calls, private classes at the local Down syndrome organization and time spent alone.
Asked to sum up his thoughts about the pandemic, he says, “Let’s teleport to a new world where there’s no COVID.”
In recent months, Vancouver photographer Ryan Walter Wagner captured the essence of Aaron’s days in our condo on Burnaby Mountain.
Before meeting Aaron, Wagner had never spent time with someone with Down syndrome. “After a few times of getting together, Aaron and I were friends. He stopped looking at the camera and started looking at me,” he says.
Aaron’s story reflects our collective experience with the pandemic: a combination of fear, boredom, frustration and loneliness, tempered by glimmers of hope and joy.