Sandra & Gary’s Story


Sandra and Gary first heard about Community Living Ontario’s Family Leadership Series through a friend. Gary’s son, Sean, has an intellectual disability, so they were keen to hear from others in similar situations.

The Family Leadership Series provides a safe space, away from the demands of day-to-day life, for families to consider the possibilities for their loved ones who have an intellectual disability. Sandra and Gary were eager to begin planning for Sean’s future.

Then COVID-19 hit. This changed things for Sean and his family dramatically.

Prior to the pandemic, Sean had an active social calendar. He participated in a bowling league, drum class, floor hockey and baseball. Today, with Sean’s support worker not able to work, Gary, who is recently retired, has been caring for Sean full-time.

Sandra, Sean and Gary

As Gary observes: “Sometimes you are so involved in the day-to-day, you don’t allow yourself the chance to think any further than that.” The Community Living Ontario Family Leadership Series is intended to address this challenge. It also provides a space for families to listen, learn and share what is possible from other families with lived experience.

Due to the pandemic, in-person sessions have been on-hold. However, families of people who have an intellectual disability are still in need of support.  In response, Community Living Ontario has worked with guest educator Darcy Elks to shift the series online, keeping families connected and engaged with their learning. “Practical strategies to be able to do the work and gain foresight into any barriers are (two) key components of the Series in starting to develop that vision for the future,” Sandra added.

As the Family Leadership Series continues online, Sandra and Gary are still working with Sean to plan for his future. Together, they are creating a vision board, listening to guest educators, and reflecting on Sean’s strengths and interests. “What might Sean’s life look like in five and ten years? Who will be in his circle of support, helping to look after his needs down the road? The series has been a catalyst for thinking further about what possibilities may exist, including employment opportunities in the future,” says Sandra.

By donating today, you are supporting our efforts to engage even more families to join our online initiatives. You are providing people who have an intellectual disability and their families with the resources to inspire possibilities and live more fulfilling lives.

Community Living Ontario has been able to adapt our Family Leadership Series to these unprecedented circumstances. With your help, we can continue to support people who have an intellectual disability and their families in these isolating times.

At Community Living Ontario, we understand that you may currently be facing increased demands on your time and resources. That is why we are so appreciative of any donation made in support of our family engagement work!

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