Inspire Possibilities Today
Since Community Living London’s inception in 1952, Community Access Programs have been an important part of our support services. Access programs offer meaningful activities for the people we support. At Community Living London (CLL) we believe that every person has the right to live a fulfilled life and it is our mission to help create an inclusive community. Many people we support struggle to be involved in the community because of barriers preventing them from being an active member of society. These barriers range from accessibility issues to social stigma against people with disabilities.
Jeff is one of a thousand people supported by Community Living London. After Jeff graduated from high school, his mother Irene searched for a day program where he would flourish. Jeff is an outgoing person who thrives in social settings and Irene knew that Jeff would be unhappy always being at home. The time following high school graduation can be challenging for people with developmental disabilities and their families for many reasons, including the sudden transition from being at school to home every day and long wait lists for adult support services. Community Living London was recommended to Irene by a friend. “It is the best organization there is,” Irene says.
In 2015, Community Living London moved one step closer to creating inclusive communities for everyone. With the help of community partners and donors, CLL opened The Centre of Learning and Innovation, better known as The Hub. The Hub is a creative environment which fosters friendship and education. Jeff attends programs at The Hub three days a week, participating in a wide range of activities. The Hub offers a variety of classes and recreation throughout the day including cooking, healthy eating, arts and crafts, games and sports. Since attending The Hub, Jeff has matured into a young man who is active in the community. Using the practical skills he has acquired at The Hub, Jeff has become very independent and is able to help his mother around the house more. He is also the assistant coach for his brother-in-law’s hockey team.
Jeff’s favourite class at the Hub is Sign Language. His passion for sign language came from wanting to build closer relationships with his friends who are deaf. Jeff has retained a lot of the signs he learned and is able to carry out conversations with his peers.
One evening Jeff’s support worker was driving him to volunteer at the Portuguese Club. They were stopped at a two-way stop when Jeff noticed two bicyclists fast approaching. The cyclists’ vision was blocked by some large bushes and they did not see the vehicle. One cyclist slammed into the side of the truck, collapsing to the ground.
Jeff rushed to the cyclist’s aide. Using the knowledge that he had learned in First Aid training at The Hub, Jeff approached the cyclist and began to assess the situation. Immediately, Jeff recognized the cyclist as they had met before. Jeff knew that she was hearing impaired, so he began to communicate with her in sign language. Jeff signed, “Are you okay?” The cyclist responded back that she was fine. Jeff continued to ask her questions. “May I look at your leg to see if it is alright?” Jeff signed. “Can I help you move to a safer place while you rest?” Jeff moved the cyclist to a safe spot as they waited for the ambulance. After the paramedics arrived, Jeff continued to use sign language to help them interact with the cyclist. The paramedics were grateful for Jeff’s ability to sign, making it possible to communicate with the cyclist. The cyclist was then taken away to the hospital. The next day Jeff saw her at the coffee shop and was happy to see that she was doing well. The cyclist was very grateful for Jeff’s help and bought him a coffee to thank him.
Through attending The Hub, Jeff was able to learn basic sign language and be trained in First Aid. The confidence Jeff gained from having the skills to assist a fellow citizen in an emergency was evident. Demonstrating his ability to be a valuable member of the community will be a story he will tell with pride for years to come. The Hub provides opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to learn practical skills that they can use in their everyday lives. We dream of increasing the amount of activities and supports offered in our day programs, so that all people with disabilities will have opportunities like Jeff did, to connect to their community in meaningful ways. With ever-increasing pressure on our budget, it is difficult to make all of our dreams a reality. Your donation will help inspire possibilities for people with developmental disabilities.