October is Community Living month – a time set aside to acknowledge the great strides that have been made in the lives of people with amazing abilities!
For many years the focus was sadly on a person’s disability, losing sight of the many awesome qualities that the individual possesses. Just as many young people and adults were hidden away in institutions, the abilities of each person were rarely identified and appreciated. Today, the possibilities are endless and I’m pleased to say that the individuals we support are living happy, productive lives in a very welcoming community.
We support 27 individuals in our programs for adults with intellectual disabilities. Our goal is to assist them in reaching their full potential as members of our community. We provide knowledgeable and innovative support staff to guide them in their journey. We provide or find safe and affordable housing suitable to each person. Together we nurture opportunities that encourage inclusion in the community and employment and social/recreational choices specific to individual needs and desires. Each step taken is intended to increase their independence, their choices and their well-being. Their successes, big and small, are celebrated. We are so often humbled by their ability to overcome obstacles as they follow their dreams. Their increased inclusion in community life is rewarding to witness.
Our role is to support and guide. The community’s role is to include, accept and guide. The employer’s role is to support, guide and set realistic expectations. The individual’s role is to be the best that they can be; to be contributing members of their community; to acknowledge their disability but focus on the many possibilities available to them. Together, we will strengthen our community through inclusion and understanding.
Most importantly, we must remember that we are all only one incident, one illness or one stroke of fate away from being a “person with a disability”. Walk a mile in their shoes, then practice compassion and thoughtfulness. And when you pass each other on the street, take the initiative and just say “hi”!