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How a Speech Pathologist Found Her Voice Through Performing

The Toyota Camry inspires a drive like no other. Sporty stance, exceptional handling, and available 301 HP injects excitement and power into each drive, so you get the most out of every road. In partnership with Toyota Canada, we connected with inspiring Canadians who have unexpectedly captivating hobbies, illuminating the incredible synergies between career and hobby, and how they can inform and elevate one another.

Meet Asia Laviolette, speech pathologist and aerialist.

Asia Laviolette's career might have been predictable from her childhood. Her favourite hobby, on the other hand, not so much.

Intriguingly, Laviolette grew up thinking she wasn't sporty. She says she was the classic kid who hung around in the outfield, praying the ball wouldn't come her way. Aerial silks, she says, has helped her shake off that past. "It's definitely given me a confidence boost," she reflects.

Laviolette loved words from an early age. "My mom swears that I was talking at three months old," she says, laughing. Laviolette thrived in a French-language school in Hamilton, Ontario, growing up fluently bilingual. After earning an undergraduate degree in linguistics and a masters in speech pathology, she became a speech pathologist in 2013.

These days, her day job and her hobby blend into a seamless, satisfying whole. "They're both really different, because I feel like all day I'm talking, talking, talking, which is great. But then I can go to practice and ... I can just be quiet, and it's just about me and my body and the apparatus," she explains, adding that a practice can buoy her up after a tiring day.

I feel extremely lucky that I have the best of both worlds.Asia Laviolette

Laviolette travels from school to school, working with children to help them overcome speech impediments. If an exercise isn't working, she has to change tactics quickly, or she'll lose the child's attention. "You really have to think on the fly," she says.

Improvement takes a lot of steady work. "For most of the kids, it's gradual," she explains. However, when children learn to say an important word that has long frustrated them—often, a sibling's name—it's very satisfying, Laviolette says.

The structure of her job allows her a lot of flexibility, which came in handy when she discovered her second passion. She first became fascinated with the discipline while on holiday with her boyfriend (now husband) in Mexico. After watching aerialists perform, she told him, "I think I could do that!"

When she returned home, she took some introductory circus classes, then joined the Hamilton Aerial Group (HAG). That group gave her the chance to expand her skills on a range of equipment, including static trapeze and aerial silks. Outside of HAG, Laviolette and another partner do independent shows around the city. For those, she develops her own choreography and costumes. "It's an outlet for my self-expression," she says.

Learning to dangle from the ceiling on a metal bar or a swath of fabric requires intense training. Laviolette practices up to three times a week for two hours at a time. It's a formidable physical challenge— "how much it hurt surprised me," she recalls of her first months of training—but it engaged her from the start. She enthusiastically pushed herself to achieve more, inspired by other aerial performers she knew, including a grandmother and a double amputee. "Really, anyone can do circus."

In a perfect world, she'd love to share that boost with her students by starting a summer camp where kids could both get help with their speech difficulties and learn about circus. "That would be my dream life."

Find a hobby that unexpectedly captivates you, just like the 2019 Toyota Camry.

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