IN THIS ISSUE…
1) VISIONING DAY: FOLLOWING OUR DREAMS
2) ENGINES OF SUCCESS 2009: WHAT A NIGHT!
3) ALL ABOARD FOR ACES IN TORONTO
4) POOL PARTY 2009 MAKES A BIG SPLASH
5) BIG BUZZ AT KINGSTON CONFERENCE
7) IT’S TRUE WHAT YOU HEAR: NEW GEAR!
VISIONING DAY: FOLLOWING OUR DREAMS
Visioning Day 2009 took place on June 20 at the Hampton Inn Ottawa Conference Centre. More than 80 people with intellectual disabilities and their family members plus staff and board members came out on a Saturday morning to talk about future directions at LiveWorkPlay.
The introductory discussion was designed to take a look at current LiveWorkPlay supports and services and talk about their relevancy in the context of the dreams of people with intellectual disabilities and those of their parents and siblings.
Initially the discussion took place in separate breakout sessions. Parents talked about how the dreams they have for their children are challenged by fears. Many stories were shared about the daily struggle to find a balance between the dignity of risk and protection from harm. There was also discussion about how LiveWorkPlay can continue offering a supportive environment where people belong, while at the same time promoting engagement and inclusion in the broader community.
The teens and adults with intellectual disabilities were excited and also anxious when talking about their dreams. The most difficult area of discussion had to do with sexuality and relationships. Many individuals were concerned that their parents or others would disapprove of their dreams. What the individuals in this group wanted should not be surprising, because it is what most everyone wants: to have a purpose in life, to love, and to be loved. What became clear in this discussion is that people with intellectual disabilities experience many barriers in pursuing their dreams, and that well-meaning paid and unpaid supporters in their lives often contribute to that challenge.
Everyone came together for the final hour with special guests Paul Melcher and Noreene Adam from Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley. Noreene shared her story from the perspective of a mother who has been learning to step back so her son can live his own life. He has made many choices for himself that were quite different from what Noreene may have wanted. But he is happy, and he is in charge, and that is what is most important to her. Noreene credited the trusting and mutually respectful relationship with her son’s support staff as critical to her ability to evolve her own role in her son’s life.
As Executive Director of Community Living Upper Ottawa Valley, Paul followed up Noreene’s story by explaining the work of the association to move away from program-oriented thinking to supporting individuals to engage with and be engaged by their local communities. The association made some difficult decisions to discard much of their traditional infrastructure to focus on helping individuals realize their dreams. The board and staff will be discussing the outcomes form Visioning Day 2009 over the summer and following up at the Orientation and Annual General Meeting on August 27.
ENGINES OF SUCCESS 2009: WHAT A NIGHT!
A packed house of more than 200 came out on June 25 to celebrate people with intellectual disabilities and recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations that support them to have a good life. Engines of Success has always been a popular event, but this year’s audience was the most diverse of all time, thanks to the many community partners that were in attendance.
This year’s event featured guest speakers Keith Powell, Executive Director of Community Living Ontario, and the Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services. Mr. Powell talked about the value of relationships and community, noting that while supports and services are important, he reminded the audience that having a place where people can come together around a shared vision of hope and progress has a value far beyond what supports and services alone can offer.
Minister Meilleur talked about the work of the Ministry in closing institutions and supporting the ongoing development of an inclusive society, and credited LiveWorkPlay and like-minded organizations with their forward-thinking approach and ability to influence government policy. She assisted in a number of award presentations that were introduced at this year’s event.
Robert Jarecsni, Gillian Gillespie, Melissa Cunningham, and Carl Sanderson were the inaugural recipients of the annual Personal Growth Award.Jennifer Harris received the first ever Ambassador Award, and Caroline Matte was the recipient of the Life Journey Award. Two Legacy Awards were given out, the first to long-time volunteer Pennie Styan, and the second to Bank of America (Ottawa headquarters) represented by June Larkin for their partnership with LiveWorkPlay that has been ongoing for more than ten years.
For the second year, Engines of Success hosted the presentation of The On My Own Recognition Award (TOMORA). TOMORA gives people with intellectual disabilities who have moved to a home of their own a financial jumpstart. Started by Professor Barry Wellar of Wellar Consulting, the award doubled this year to $200 per person thanks toGeoff & Bobbie McGowan Remax Realtors who are now co-sponsors. There were eight TOMORA recipients this year, aging in range from 19 to 45 years of age
There were so many special moments throughout the evening that it is impossible to mention all of them, but one of the clear highlights was the music of David McKillop, whoperformed a song that he wrote after leaving the Smiths Falls institution. David’s voice and guitar struck a chord with the audience, and he was surprised by a thunderous 40-second standing ovation. This was followed by a three part year in review slide show that brought many audience members to tears before the evening wrapped up with door prizes. You can click on these links to watch the Journeys, Work/Travel, and People Power shows.
Special thanks to Alastair McAlastair who MCed the event the entire evening without a break! Former host of Bob-TV, Alastair appears frequently at the local Yuk Yuks comedy club and other venues across North America.
ALL ABOARD FOR ACES IN TORONTO
Active Community Experiences in Summer (ACES) offers teens and young adults with intellectual disabilities who are still in school the opportunity to plan and experience a trip! This year there are two different small groups heading to Toronto for three nights. Each group will decide on mode of travel (bus or train) and what they will do with their time.
The first group has already made the decision to travel by VIA Rail and they have agreed on a jam-packed agenda that includes the CN Tower, Canada’s Wonderland, Medieval Times, and Famous People Players. Heather and Gage (pictured) went down to the Ottawa Train Station and picked up the tickets for departure on July 6. You can follow the ACES on their summer journey with the ACES 2009 Facebook Group.
POOL PARTY 2009 MAKES A BIG SPLASH
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