Over the month of May, people from across Ontario celebrated the many successes in creating inclusive communities for people with intellectual disabilities. Community Living Ontario kicked off Community Living Month by asking people the question, What does community living mean to you? The responses we received reached far beyond our expectations; the interest from associations, members, and self-advocates from around the province resonated throughout the month. Community living is about creating a truly inclusive society that reflects the abilities of every individual. Now, as May comes to an end, we have recognized the passion so many of you share for building a society that is inclusive to everyone.
Earlier this month, we were made aware of a group called Media Explosion, a group of five self-advocates from Windsor, ON, who had an interest in storytelling.
“Media Explosion is about telling people our stories as well as making sure others’ voices and stories are heard,” said Paul, one of Media Explosion’s founding members.
“The group was hand selected because of their willingness to stand up and speak out, their interest in journalism, as well as their passion for making sure others’ voices are heard,” Kitty Peguese, staff support for Media Explosion.
All of the stories Media Explosion writes are shared and posted on their Facebook page, which you can find here.
“We want Media Explosion to continue to grow. Our message is that there are a lot of stories to be told, and we want to be the medium that carries the message,” said Paul.
We look forward to hearing more about this great initiative in the future.
Although the celebration of Community Living Month is coming to an end, we encourage our members, associations and self-advocates to continue to send us stories about the many ways people are Inspiring Possibilities.
Community Living Ontario would like to sincerely thank everyone that made an effort to raise awareness during Community Living Month.
“I’m on the Board of Directors with Community Living Fort Erie, and I sit on the Hiring Committee. We do an interview process with potential employees coming in. We sit down with a couple of the managers and ask questions to know if [the candidates] would be good assets to Community Living Fort Erie. I don’t make the final choice, but I have input in the interview process.”
“The Self Advocacy Committee gives people with disabilities a voice. For example, if they have problems at their group home, they’ll come to us, we’ll discuss it as a group and send them down the right avenue to get the problem solved.”
“I’m a referee in pro wrestling. I’ve got a lot of matches under my belt, 30 or 40 matches over three or four years. I have refereed great men and women in the sport; they’ve got the passion, the drive, you name it. It’s fascinating refereeing a 300-pound guy versus a 200-pound guy and how it works.”
“They had an independent show – TWA – and they came every other Sunday. I was there watching it and then I started asking questions about how to become a referee.”
“When you first start out [as a referee], it’s intimidating because you don’t know what to expect with the guys or the girls, whoever you’re refereeing. It’s interesting and I’m learning new things every time I’m in the ring.”
“In August, I’ll be heading to Newfoundland. That’s where I’m originally from. I’m going there to visit family and friends because it’s been a while. That’s been one of my dreams, just to get down there to visit them.”
President, Advocates in Motion
Self Advocacy Committee
Community Living Fort Erie
Living in Community
Have you ever thought about what your life would be like if you had been born with a developmental disability? Not likely, why would you? Families and people who support those with developmental disabilities think about the people they love and support every day; but I never did because I never had to. Not really.
When I graduated with my teaching degree five years ago I had a good working knowledge of special education and the variety of ‘special’ youth I may be asked to educate. That helped me understand the medical causes of different behaviours but it did not make me think about what my life would have been like if I, or one of my kids, had been born with a disability.
My brother started showing signs of schizophrenia at the age of 18. He was not on medication, his behaviour was frightening and it was far beyond the ability of my family to know how to cope with him. Fortunately, in time a social worker helped him find medical help, housing and some safety. His life today at 56 is a happy one. He lives in his own one bedroom apartment with his companion dog Buddy, works, and enjoys a family that love and talk to him all the time. He has a few friends other than those who are paid to support him. My brother, paranoia and all, is one of the finest men you could ever want to know; a man of great character. His ‘behaviours’ limit the amount of friends in his life and the amount of time people want to spend with him. I find this sad to think about but, compared to the people with schizophrenia that I once saw locked in small white rooms on Queen Street West – Sam has a real life.
Coordinator Communications & Training
Community Living Parry Sound
Community Living Prince Edward Hosts Mayor’s Breakfast, Celebrates Milestone
The message of inclusion for all people was delivered loudly and proudly by Community Living Prince Edward, as the association hosted its first ever Mayor’s Breakfast yesterday to kick off Community Living Month.
Prince Edward County’s Mayor Robert Quaiff officially proclaimed May as Community Living Month. The organization’s Executive Director, Susan Treverton, highlighted the need to increase the capacity of communities to embrace and welcome people of all abilities.
“Community Living Prince Edward believes that our community should be a place where ALL people have the opportunity to fully and actively participate in the life of their community,” said Treverton. “We make conscious decisions to ensure our resources are in alignment with support for people versus programs which in turn increases the opportunity for people to become engaged in the life of the community and its economy.”
Board President Henry Morrison, County Advocate Dereck Simpson and Lee Swackhammer, a parent with the Family Engagement Network, also shared a common message of inclusion and the importance of belonging.
In addition, this year is of particular importance to Community Living Prince Edward as they celebrate 50 years of service in their community. Established in 1965 by a group of dedicated parents, the organization has continued to grow and develop in response to the wishes, goals and desires of people they support.
How are you celebrating Community Living Month, and be sure to let us know what you’re doing by emailing your stories, photographs and videos to email@example.com.
“I’m involved with Community Living Ontario to make sure that self-advocates are included, able to achieve their hopes and dreams, and able to speak and make decisions for themselves.”
“I would like to see self-advocates be more comfortable and feel like they’re reaching their goals, and be proud of themselves that they’re doing it for themselves, not having someone else doing it for them. That’s where my motivation is.”
“To me, Community Living means building more inclusion, instead of exclusion; to have people with intellectual disabilities be able to get out there; we all work together with one voice.”
“My goal would be to go to school and become a social worker or PSW because a lot of people say I’m good at that. I don’t mind helping people because I like to see the smiles on their faces.”
Self-Advocate, Director-At-Large, Community Living Ontario
“I have started a self-advocacy group within my local association of Community Living North Halton. I learned about self-advocacy by attending a conference and workshops a while back and learning from another self-advocate in Oakville.”
“By going to the workshops, I learned about many things and that I’m not the only one that has a disability. I thought that it was just me in this world that had a disability. I started meeting new people and making new friendships.”
“Community Living to me means that we are all equal. We are all gifts. We all have things that we can share. We can all be accepted for what we have. We’re not disabled, we all have abilities.”
“We should look at the things that we can do and not focus on the can’ts. We should be encouraging people to do things.”
“I have a goal to go on a vacation. I have been working towards it by raising money for myself. I’ve been saying it for a long time, but I keep saving money to actually make that dream come true for myself. I also had the dream of going back to school, and I actually made that dream come true. I’m currently taking the CICE program at Conestoga College.”
“I am working with my fellow self-advocates from Community Living North Halton to mark Community Living month. We’re having a Spring Fling dance in Milton on May 2nd. We’re going to have people come out and enjoy themselves for the evening, with lots of dancing and food.”
Self-advocate President, Council of Community Living Ontario
Community Living Ontario wants to know about the events and activities that are happening in your neighbourhood to mark Community Living Month.
Send your stories, photos and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org OR post them to our Facebook (facebook.com/communitylivingontario) or Twitter (@CLOntario) accounts.
Tag your tweets with the #Inclusion2015 hashtag. All month long, let’s share the many ways people are Inspiring Possibilities.