Scarborough families find alternative residences for sons and daughters
Host September 15 conference on independent living
Thursday August 23, 2012 -- Michelle Strutzenberger
Bonnie Heath’s daughter, who has Down syndrome, has been living in a home of her own for more than three years, and at an event next month Heath hopes to see many more families get a sense of the possibilities in independent living for their own children who have an intellectual disability.
“I believe with all my heart that adults should be in their own home, able to control their lives to the best of their ability,” says Heath.
“It gives them pride, a sense of belonging and responsibility.”
Heath notes that as a result of her own daughter living independently, she, as a young adult, contributes to her community with volunteering, manages the upkeep of the house, looks after herself and has an “amazing” social life.
“What else could one ask for?” says Heath.
The conference on September 15 at Community Living Toronto, expands on an effort underway for six years to make independent living more possible for people who have an intellectual disability in the area.
Scarborough Residential Alternatives, a group of parents that came together because they believed their children needed different residential options, has been at the centre of this effort and is now hosting the September 15 gathering.
Presenters include family mediator, parenting co-ordinator, and counsellor Nancy Huntley; Raul Rupsingh, who developed Pointer Ware, a simple way for seniors and special needs populations to connect online with family, friends and the wider world; Brendan Pooran, a lawyer specializing in areas of disability; financial advisor Ron Malis; Laura Starret, manager of LIGHTS, a unique new program created to address the shortage of independent and appropriate housing for citizens who have an intellectual disability in Toronto; and John Lord, a researcher, author, and facilitator, who has published widely about community alternatives.
A panel of parents will also share how they have helped their children move into their own homes.
A separate conference for self-advocates will take place at the same time, with the topic “living on my own.”
Heath says she would recommend any parent who has a child with intellectual disability that is more than 14 years old attend.
“This is also a good age for the self advocate to be part of the conference; it will get them thinking about not living in their parent’s home forever,” says Heath.
She adds her hope is that through this event parents will start looking at their children differently.
“Everyone is capable of being responsible for themselves,” she says. “It may be different than others, but with the right support it is possible.”
To date, Scarborough Residential Alternatives has worked with seven people to move them out of their parents’ homes into homes of their own
The group meets monthly September to June. Last year they helped another group with a similar mission start up in Kitchener-Waterloo.
To learn more about the conference, contact Heath at heath_bonnie(at)hotmail.com, or visit the website.
Feel free to comment by e-mailing michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.