At Community Living London (CLL), we pride ourselves in supporting people with disabilities through all stages of their life. We believe in everyone’s inherent value and work together, so they can fully participate in their community. This summer, Jocylyn, a young woman supported by CLL for many years, celebrated a milestone—she moved into her new home.
When Jocylyn was 6 months old she started to have frequent seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy. This was a frightening time for Connie, a new mother, who was concerned for her baby’s health. Jocylyn was then diagnosed with Autism, Global Delay and Attention Deficit Disorder. Jocylyn also has difficulty communicating and managing her emotions. Life can be overwhelming when you are unsure where to turn to find support for your child with a disability. With all the support Jocylyn required, and another daughter to raise, Connie made the very difficult decision to leave her full-time job to be there for her children. At age 8, Jocylyn and her family suffered an unbearable loss; her dad died. This presented a whole new dimension to the family’s struggle. Having Community Living London as an organization that could help Jocylyn was an important life line and helped the family heal. Their first connection to Community Living London was with our Family Support Worker program (FSW).
Being a single parent, Connie found the process of navigating the developmental service system daunting. To make matters more challenging for the family, when Jocylyn was 13, Connie was diagnosed with breast cancer. The pressure of supporting two daughters and going through cancer treatment was overwhelming for Connie, who began facing some mental health struggles as she tried to manage everything alone. Connie described how the Family Support Workers made her feel safe during uncertain times and were a friendly face when attending appointments. Our FSW staff helped Connie discover services and assisted her to understand the complicated world of government applications and funding. Through the FSW program, Connie also attended workshops; not only were the workshops a learning opportunity, but they gave Connie a chance to network with other caregivers in similar situations.
Children with disabilities are often excluded from activities that most others take for granted, like attending camp with friends. With the help of the FSW program, Jocylyn registered to attend Community Living London’s Summer Leisure Program. Jocylyn’s sister, Jaylah, also found a place at CLL. She regularly attended Sibling Workshops, a program offering support and learning for youth who have a sibling with a disability. Through this experience, Jaylah learned how to cope with the challenges kids face when they have a sibling with a developmental disability. Often times, siblings can feel left out, as it may be necessary for parents to provide more attention and care to helping their child with a disability.
Through CLL’s Respite Program, Jocylyn had the opportunity to explore new activities! Respite is a program that offers temporary care for people with developmental disabilities, so their family can take a break. While Connie and Jaylah were spending quality time together, Jocylyn was exploring the community, making new friends, learning new skills, and having fun! The time apart was exactly what the family needed and this became an invaluable support for all of them. Jocylyn and her family benefited from Community Living London’s Christmas Families Sponsorship Program. The holidays can be a time full of emotion and pressure for many. In this initiative, community partners donate money and gifts, so that together we can give families a memorable Christmas!
Community Living London’s Fee for Service staff began supporting Jocylyn in her home, but quickly recognized that this environment created many distractions for the family. To accommodate the family and provide the best care possible, our staff decided to support Jocylyn at one of Community Living London’s access centres. The support at the centre included access to the many sensory tools available, along with a smartboard, learning activities, games, kitchen and more. Being able to provide support to Jocylyn in the center helped her learn new social and life skills, while enabling the rest of the family to have some time for themselves.
At one point during Jocylyn’s journey, she was moved into a hospital when the family realized they needed full time help to care for her. This was a difficult decision for the family to make, but it was the best option. Community Living London’s Fee for Service Program continued to provide support to Jocylyn during this time, allowing her to leave the hospital environment to spend time at one of Community Living London’s access centres. Jocylcn’s family and Community Living London’s Person Centered Planning department began planning for Jocylyn’s future, so that she would be able to one day move out of the hospital and into a place of her own. Person Centered Planning is a department which helps people with disabilities and their families develop a life plan and set goals for their future.
The Planning Department, along with Fee for Service and Family Support all worked together to successfully move Jocylyn out of the hospital and into her new home! The first night at her new home Jocylyn slept right through the night; after all, it had been her first time in over a year not sleeping in a hospital bed. The staff described how relaxed and comfortable she was, now that she finally had a place of her own. Since moving to her new home, staff supporting her recognized Jocylyn’s outgoing nature, so they take her on frequent day trips to local farms, parks, and more! Our staff look forward to supporting Jocylyn through all stages of her life and seeing her flourish into an engaged and active community member.
“All I want for my daughter is to live in an inclusive community where she can be supported” said Connie. Without Community Living London and other agencies in the developmental sector, Jocylyn would live in isolation. Community Living London gave Jocylyn the opportunity to flourish in our community and a safe space for her family. Your donation helps countless families in the community who have a child with a disability connect to meaningful resources. Please help Community Living London continue to support people with developmental disabilities, and their families, to live fulfilled lives.
To learn more about Community Living London and how you can make a difference please contact Michelle Paonessa at email@example.com or 519 686 3000 ex.340
Donate today at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/5832
Cash and cheque donations can be mailed to: Community Living London-190 Adelaide St South London, ON N5Z 3L1.