I was five years old when my parents told me I wasn’t going to be an only child anymore. I was torn between being concerned about sharing my parents and being excited to have a new friend at home. On December 11th, 1996, Jebikka Sivasambu was born.
It wasn’t until I was eight years old that my parents started getting worried about the lack of progress in my sister’s communication skills. She was close to four years old, at the time, and her social development wasn’t up to speed with the rest of the kids in her daycare.
But it was only after repeated sessions with doctors, physician specialists, and psychologists, that my sister was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
In retrospect, it was a hard time for my parents to comprehend what the autism spectrum was, and its consequences, while living in Montreal, Quebec. There was just such a wide range of challenges my parents faced that included: language barriers; a lack of community support; inaccessible school curriculums, and the list went on.
When my sister was eight years old, my parents made the tough decision to leave the life they had built in Montreal to start over in Toronto. It was hands down the greatest decision they could have made.
Since the move to Toronto, our family has seen some remarkable developments in Jebikka. A lot of these developments came, and continue to come, from the direct support she gets from the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC). She started going to SAAAC’s drop-in program when it ran out of the facilities at the Canada Sri Ayyappan Hindu Temple.
Jebikka has experienced profound growth through the programs at SAAAC. At a young age, we thought Jebikka’s passion was in painting and drawing. Through SAAAC’s various arts programs we’ve found that her true passion is in singing. Through finding her true passion, she’s had the opportunity to sing at a variety of high-profile events, including: Chithra Geetham Show, Vivah Gala Night, Karthik Live Music Experience, and SAAAC’s annual fundraising galas.
My youngest sister, Rubine Sivasambu, and I have opened an Instagram account for her to showcase her amazing work. We document her life so family and friends can ask her about the various things she does, and learn more through her Instagram Story.
As Jebikka’s older brother I am looking to give back to SAAAC, and to use my own passion for music to help fund the renovations of their new state-the-art facility in Scarborough.
Along with my team at High Quality Entertainment, a professional DJ service, I’m hosting the “Kings of the North” 4 vs 4 Basketball Tournament at Angus Glen Community Centre on November 18th.
We’re inviting local leagues to bring the best of their best and compete. Participating leagues in this tournament will be: Markham City Basketball Club, South Asian Sports Entertainment, Toronto Premier Basketball League, and Ontario Tamil Basketball League.
The cash prize for the winning team will be $500. We hope you’ll join us for a great day of playing basketball and supporting a wonderful cause. If you’re interested in contributing to this tournament to help the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre, as a platinum or team sponsor please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.