A Strathroy advocate and the Diamond Jubilee Medal
Experience leads Daniel Beamers to challenge stereotypes, break down barriers
Friday July 20, 2012 -- Kristian Partington
When Daniel Beimers considers the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal he received following the Middlesex Community Living (MCL) annual general meeting at the end of June, there’s a bittersweet inflection in his tone.
Is he honoured to receive recognition reserved for outstanding Canadians that celebrates their dedication to community and to be the first person in Strathroy where he lives to receive one?
Of course he is, but he says if there was a greater public understanding of the importance it true inclusion for people who have a disability, he wouldn’t need to be a vocal advocate and he’d never have cause to receive recognition in the first place.
He’s humble, to be sure, but his dedication to people who have an intellectual disability is certainly not lost on MCL executive director Sherri Kroll, who came to know him when he sought support with the organization in 2004.
“Daniel is often the united voice for the over 80 people supported by Middlesex Community Living and hundreds more across Ontario,” says Kroll, noting he’s active with People First and another group called New Visions Advocates.
“Daniel uses each of these groups to help build awareness within the community about people with intellectual disabilities and to challenge the stereotypes and barriers that they face.”
He understands these barriers and stereotypes all too well, he says. He was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2005 and he spent his entire life prior to that very much misunderstood by some of the people closest to him, including his father.
Daniel’s struggle for support and the eventual understanding his father discovered following the Asperger’s diagnosis led Daniel to want to help other’s come to the same realizations.
“Everything went into place and my dad saw everything that I went through in a whole new light,” Daniel says, recalling and Asperger’s information session they attended hosted by a leading authority on the syndrome.
Today he works hard to help others see that same light, and he hopes the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal might help draw a little more attention to the need for inclusion in our communities.
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