Logan Chalmers: “Our challenges will not hold us back.”
Written by Paul Fraumeni
Logan Chalmers is 18 and rockin' it.
He’s just started his second year studying nuclear engineering at Ontario Tech University. He plans to eventually earn his Masters. If he can, he’d like to work for an energy company abroad.
He’s been an active volunteer with Correctional Services Canada, Grandview Kids, Feed the Need, the Black Educators Network Tutoring in Durham, Whitby Public Library and Ontario Tech’s STEM Camp.
And he’s passionate about helping to save the planet. “We have to make this zero-emission energy source more readily available to Canada and the rest of the world,” he wrote in his application for an EKO scholarship. “Phasing out fossil fuels is critical; it is up to my generation to meet the present scientific community and continue that mission. I know I can make a difference.”
But he wasn’t always so sure of himself.
Alannah McKenzie, a rehabilitation specialist at Grandview Kids, met Logan when he was a little boy “with learning difficulties and coordination difficulties who was shy and had trouble keeping eye contact.”
Darcy Linton first got to know Logan when he was five years old. Darcy was a coach at Logan’s dad’s athletic training facility in Whitby, ON. “Our relationship began silently. With me and most other people outside his family, Logan was non-verbal. He would spend most of his time on his computer.”
Diagnosed as having autism at age six, Logan's first years of life were different from many other kids. But Alannah and Darcy watched him make an impressive transformation over the years.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with Logan and over time he came out of his shell, blossoming to show how full of life he was,” says Alannah.
“I have watched with reverence as he grew from that little boy who didn’t talk to this young adult,” says Darcy, who became one of Logan’s teachers at Henry Street High School.
That Logan is on a solid path now begins with his own positive mindset.
“Years ago, I’d maybe be a bit embarrassed by my autism, but now I’m not ashamed of what I have. I don’t dance around the fact that I have autism. I’m open about how it affects my life and I’m proud that I’ve overcome my challenges.”
And Logan is the first to admit that he didn’t do all this alone.
His family, parents Cathy and Brad Chalmers, his sister Zoe (Logan proudly tells you about her lacrosse achievements) and his grandparents, Linda and Dave Chalmers, have had a huge influence on him.
“Something my parents have always demonstrated is showing leadership and helping individuals and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I was brought up not believing disabilities were a handicap. My family never treated me differently and I never wanted to be treated differently.”
His grandfather, Dave, who died in 2021, encouraged Logan’s love of science, taking him to see Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye and on weekly visits to the library. His grandmother, Linda, taught him how to sew and got him passionate about gardening.
Grandview Kids was also key on his journey from being a shy kid to a confident young man and burgeoning nuclear engineer.
“That was a really nice experience. They helped me with my motor skills and logic skills and getting those off the ground. And with socialization and being able to properly express myself and understanding what other people meant. When you’re young and on the spectrum, it can be a real challenge. I mean, you’re young, but you have this additional thing of top of everything. So Grandview really helped me get my bearings in the world.”
And as a reflection of all the support he’s been given, Logan would like to do the same for others.
“I want to help people like me or who have similar challenges. That’s why I put my hat in the ring to volunteer at places like Grandview Kids. Even if it’s a small difference, I want to help kids and families get the proper attention and knowledge that children need to make their lives better. I want to show kids that having a disability is not an excuse. Our challenges will not hold us back.”
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