Ontario youth have new inclusion commitments
For Kate Hewitt it’s about simplicity; for Lauren Hamilton, it’s a new connection
Monday July 16, 2012 -- Michelle Strutzenberger
Two Ontario youth, Kate Hewitt and Lauren Hamilton, left a global gathering on inclusion last week each armed with a specific, new commitment.
Hewitt, who hails from Peterborough and has a close-hand experience with disability given her sister’s diagnosis with global developmental delay, says she kept hearing one theme throughout the four-day event: keep it simple.
“You don’t need to make things difficult; you don’t need to make things complicated. Sometimes messages are best sent and received if done in the easiest and simple of ways.”
She says she plans to think about applying this both in her own life and as she helps with the re:Action4Inclusion youth advisory committee, of which she is a member, over the next year.
Lauren Hamilton of Toronto says she’ll be connecting with a delegate from Texas she met whom she found very inspiring and with whom she began to form a close bond.
“She works so hard as a single person to make a change and to make everyone else’s day better, and she doesn’t ask for anything in return and that really struck me,” Hamilton tells Community Living Leaders, noting their hope is to do some joint work in the future.
It’s the sort of outcome the co-organizers of the Toronto Summer Institute, now running for nearly three decades, and attracting people from every continent except Antarctica, would no doubt be happy to see.
As they write in a message about the gathering, “We don't have solutions, but we do have great questions.
“And, with like-minded deep thinkers who will struggle and celebrate together, we will leave renewed in our commitment, fresh with new perspectives, questions, and approaches, and reaffirmed in fundamental values that strengthen us to move forward relentlessly.”
Community Living Ontario community inclusion co-ordinator Linda White arranged for a group of youth, including Hamilton and Hewitt, to attend the program. The youth are all members of this year's advisory committee for re:Action4Inclusion, an initiative to help youth become community builders and connectors. She confirms the Toronto Summer Institute is in large part about each attendee discovering new ways to create change.
“It’s a great spot, in the quiet of the summer, to be amongst other people who share the same values and principles as you do to be thinking, ‘Ok, what can I do, what’s one thing I can walk away with from here to make something different?’ “
Some are describing the coming days in social services as “endless impending chaos and cutbacks,” but as long as there are those like Hewitt and Hamilton — people who are willing to learn and to commit to new and needed action — the certainty of new solutions and new hope can be counted on as well.
Feel free to comment by e-mailing michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.