September 21, 2020

BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND

Entering the post-secondary world is intimidating, and having to make new friends, learn where your classes are and manage piles of homework can be stressful.
But Sarah Bruno has another challenge to overcome. Not only does she wear a prosthetic leg, but she also has to face everyday tasks without hands.
Bruno has been a triple amputee since birth, and is now in her first year of Conestoga College’s early childhood education (ECE) program.
In kindergarten, Bruno began wearing prosthetic hands. But since she was already so used to doing things without them, she stopped using them.
Bruno, 18, is currently doing her field placement at Cambridge Children’s Centre, where, with help from her supervising teacher and the children, she is learning to do things she never thought she could.
“I can pick up kids, and that’s something I wasn’t sure about before,” she said. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence since doing my placements.”
When Bruno started her placement at the centre, kids stared, touched and asked questions.
“You don’t have fingers,” said one boy during small group time.
“I know,” Bruno replied as she poured him a glass of milk. “I was born like that.”
The stares and questions are nothing new to Bruno, but the fact that children are so accepting is what makes her feel so comfortable around them.
“It is wonderful to watch the kids. They don’t view it as a disability,” said Cambridge Children’s Centre teacher, Barb Berry, who added, “They accept her for who she is, and that’s the beauty of kids.”
Bruno has always loved children. Although she is not sure what she wants to do once she graduates from her program, she knows that whatever it is, it will be with children.
“I want to work with children to show them that I am normal, too,” she said.
And Bruno lives as much of a normal, independent life as possible. Not only does she go to college, but she cooks and drives, too.
“It is insulting when people ask me ‘can you do this?’ she said. “It’s like they assume I can’t, even though I am very independent.”
But there are still challenges that Bruno faces.
She is unable to zip up coats, tie shoes and change diapers. And these could be potential problems, especially when working with children. But Berry believes if there is something that Bruno can’t do, she can find a different way of doing it.
“We will do everything in our power to help her through this,” she said.